Private-Hire Preferred Over Taxis

The day has finally come — there is now hard evidence that people in Singapore prefer private-hire car services like Uber and Grab to taxis, thanks to a survey conducted by the Public Transport Council (PTC).

While The Straits Times’ report on the survey threw loads of statistics at us, crucially there wasn’t any voices from the actual users themselves.

So MustShareNews talked to some Millennials aged from 18 to 29 years who are regular users of both services, and found out why they really preferred private-hire car services to regular taxis. (Spoiler: It’s mainly due to price!)

The Stats

But first, the statistics.

According to the PTC survey, which interviewed 1,526 taxi and private-hire service riders aged 15 years old and older, 97.3% of respondents said they were satisfied with private-hire services, compared with 94.4% who were satisfied with taxis.


The same group of respondents were asked to rate private-hire and taxi services out of 10, based on 8 key categories:

  1. Waiting time
  2. Ease of booking
  3. Information on services
  4. Ride comfort
  5. Driver’s knowledge of routes
  6. Driver’s service
  7. Safety
  8. Location of taxi stands (for taxis only)

The overall mean satisfaction score given to private hires was 7.9, compared with a slightly lower 7.5 for taxis.

The category with the largest disproportion was the ease of booking. Private-hire services scored an average of 8.1 while taxis scored 7.2.

Why Uber/Grab

We also did an informal survey of 10 young people, and based on their responses, identified some key categories that were important to them in making the decision to take private-hire services instead of cabs: Price, Laziness, Service and Availability.

Mainly because there isn’t any midnight charge for Uber! If I take a regular taxi home from town, it’ll cost me about $30, but if I take an UberPool its only $15 or less. And, I don’t have to walk out and wait/flag for a cab, I can just wait for my Uber to arrive (with no booking fee).

-Alison, 22

Price: ✔

Laziness: ✔

You can never find cabs in the morning at my place, even if I tried to book via Comfort’s app, I had to wait for an hour. For Grab, if I’m willing to spend more money and get a Grab Car when the demand is high, at least I’m able to get one on most occasions.

I’m also lazy to walk out and wait under the hot sun to fight for cabs. Now I don’t have to worry about asking “uncle, NETS can?”, or worry about having enough cash, cuz it gets deducted from my card straightaway.

-Chev, 24

Availability: ✔

Laziness: ✔

I prefer Uber because it’s convenient and i know i’ll get a ride within minutes, as opposed to running around the streets looking for a cab. This applies to GrabCar too.

Also, it’s slightly cheaper than regular taxis with the UberPool option and the occasional promo code!

-Valerie, 18

Price: ✔

Laziness: ✔

Namely because of the fixed price! Cos I had a few bad experiences with regular cabs where the drivers deliberately took longer routes / used the gantries so the fee became much higher than expected. 

-Anna, 19

Price: ✔

Service: ✔

Cause i can just chill at home while waiting for it, instead of having to aimlessly flag and wait by the roadside. The service is generally good too, because Uber/Grab always asks for your feedback at the end of every ride, and they regularly police this rating for drivers — thus weeding out the bad drivers.

And also cause sometimes it can be cheaper than taking a taxi — especially with a promo code.

-Wen Chuan, 28

Laziness: ✔

Service: ✔

Price: ✔

As GrabCar, GrabHitch, UberPool, etc has a fixed price, you won’t have to keep watching the meter run and be like OH SHIT when there’s a jam, I can totally just sit back and not have to worry about how much I would need to pay.

Grab also has friendlier drivers who are more willing to have hearty conversations with you even when it’s past midnight! I always get home feeling very happy with the conversations I have with them! Some even gave me very useful life advice.

-Gladys, 19

Price: ✔

Service: ✔

The drivers of private-hire cars usually use a GPS and they know where they’re going, sometimes taxi drivers ask me how to get to my destination – if I knew I wouldn’t be taking a taxi?

In that scenario, both the driver and I are clueless; he ends up the wrong/longer route and I pay more than I would with a private hire car.

They [Private hire cars] also very convenient; taxis aren’t as readily available anymore, I’d very much rather book one in advance, it’ll save me some time.

-Daryl, 26

Service: ✔

Availability: ✔

Convenience. I’ve had experiences waiting out on a busy street in the hot sun for 15 whole minutes and not having a single taxi stop. I only use regular taxis when there’s a taxi stand nearby and I’m assured I’ll get a taxi quickly.

-Jo, 18

Laziness: ✔

Availability: ✔

Grab has more promos and rewards, they are easy to use and redeem. Regular taxis are reckless drivers and are choosy, it’s disappointing having to wait for a taxi only to be turned down when you finally flag one.

-Julian, 29

Price: ✔

Service: ✔

Availability: ✔

I think the benefit of Grab is that they have whole prices, knowing that I can use my card to pay instead of worrying if I have enough cash.

Also, I prefer pool rides, such as GrabHitch (equivalent of UberPOOL), and I like that GrabHitch has the option to schedule rides in advance, with the option of requesting for 1 – 4 seats with no difference in prices.

-Steph, 23

Price: ✔

Service: ✔

The Results

Price: ✔✔✔✔✔✔✔

Service: ✔✔✔✔✔✔

Laziness: ✔✔✔✔✔

Availability: ✔✔✔✔

According to our informal poll, price wins, with 7 people citing it as the reason why they take private-hire services.

Service comes in at a close second, with 6 people a fan of the better service that private-hire apps provide.

The Top Choice

Assistant Professor Terence Fan, a specialist in transport at the Singapore Management University (SMU), told The New Paper that he was not surprised that users preferred private-hire services.

“Among the other factors, private-hire car services are still relatively new here, so it could be the novelty factor.”

He added that taxi ridership numbers had fallen in the past few years. PTC said the average daily ridership dropped last year to 954,000 from 967,000 in 2013.

“The drop means that people are not just taking Uber and Grab when they are unable to get a taxi. Private-hires are first choice now above taxis.”

Income No More

We hope taxi companies and drivers can buck up, or they will see their income deservedly eroded by their rivals.

Featured image from BQ