Guide: Third-party taxi booking apps in Singapore

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    Getting a taxi is easy these days with so man third-party apps available

    Remember what it was like to book a cab directly from Comfort? Well we can’t, and that’s all thanks to the explosive popularity of third-party taxi booking apps.

    As recently as last year, we’ve had to put up with the outdated and mediocre booking systems offered by taxi companies (we’re looking at you, Comfort), but now there has been a surge in the number of taxi booking that allow you to quickly and easily get a cab.

    Perhaps in their attempt to keep up with the Joneses,  the Land Transport Authority (LTA) also introduced their own taxi app, [email protected], to the derision of many. With only the option to view taxi locations without being able to book them, it will be interesting to see how it competes with the big boys in the market.

    So who exactly are these big boys? We give you the lowdown on the four most popular apps you can use to get your ride in Singapore.

    GrabTaxi

    GrabTaxi

    GrabTaxi is the current darling of the Southeast Asian market. It first started out in Malaysia as MyTeksi app, and has since expanded to 14 cities in Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.

    Having launched in Singapore in October last year, the service completely overhauled the way people booked taxis in Singapore with its quick booking and tracking process, utterly exposing the archaic system used by local taxi firms.

    While initially offering only a taxi booking service that competes against Easy Taxi, GrabTaxi has since expanded their range of services to include booking of cars and limousines, which treads into another taxi booking app, Uber’s territory.

    Ride options

    • Standard taxi
    • Limo taxi
    • Car (with options for 4-, 6- and 13-seaters)

    The awesome

    • Large taxi fleet
    • Various ride options
    • Quick and painless booking process
    • Ability to add notes to relay additional information to the driver

    Not so cool

    • No credit card payment feature

    What we think

    Some may say that this is Southeast Asia’s answer to Uber, but we think GrabTaxi is way better than its better-known counterpart, at least for now.

    It’s a must-have app on all our phones here at GrateNews, and we can’t even remember how taxi bookings were like before GrabTaxi. Well, ok…maybe we can.

    Uber

    Uber

    The golden boys of the car/taxi booking industry arose from Silicon Valley, Uber is one of the most prominent of such services globally.

    Just like GrabTaxi, Uber also launched its service in Singapore in October, and offered a more-or-less similar booking system as GrabTaxi. They initially only offered their signature black luxury limos – with luxury prices to boot.

    Fortunately, their budget service UberX was soon introduced (using more run-of-the-mill cars such as Toyotas and Kias), offering prices not much different from what taxis charge.More recently, Uber has started to offer UberTaxi, which essentially means a normal taxi comes to pick you up, much like GrabTaxi’s offering.

    Book a limousine or taxi service based on your location, your credit card is automatically charged after the ride. No more fumbling for cash.

    Ride options

    • UberExec (limo service)
    • UberX
    • UberTaxi

    The awesome

    • Various ride options
    • Ability to split fares when sharing a ride
    • Users have their own promo codes to receive rebates when they introduce other users to the service
    • Regular promos
    • Cashless payment

    Not so cool

    • Network of vehicles seems pretty limited for now
    • Vehicle availability is pretty poor in most heartland areas – there’s a distinct focus on providing the service to the CBD area instead

    What we think

    Uber provides a great service, much like GrabTaxi’s, but can often get a little frustrating as we frequently encounter problems getting a driver on UberX and UberTaxi.

    We love the fact that we don’t have to pay the driver in cash after our ride. That’s already taken care of with our credit card that’s linked to the Uber app.

    Easy Taxi

    Easy Taxi

    Entering the Singapore market early in 2014, Easy Taxi is probably one of the biggest three competitors in this business now, together with GrabTaxi and Uber.

    Backed by the world’s largest Internet incubator, Rocket Internet, Easy Taxi was founded in Brazil 2011 and has presence in over 30 countries worldwide.

    Now that’s a pretty quick rate of expansion. They also boast a global user base of more than 10 million.

    Ride options

    • Normal 4-seater
    • 7-seater
    • Limo

    The awesome

    • Fast app
    • Option for cash or cashless payment
    • Option to sign up via Facebook
    • Offers its service to companies in Singapore

    Not so cool

    • Dropdown ads in the app are pretty annoying
    • App doesn’t show how many drivers are in the area before a booking is made
    • Unable to zoom in or out in map view

    What we think

    Easy Taxi actually provides a pretty solid service, but their slightly late involvement in Singapore compared to GrabTaxi and Uber has probably affected their expansion here.

    Their marketing push doesn’t appear as aggressive as the other two, and it’s telling that GrabTaxi and Uber have much stronger brand recognition here.

    Hailo

    Hailo

    This London-based startup is the newest entry to Singapore’s taxi booking war. It boasts a unique feature of offering the booking request to the nearest available driver, as opposed to GrabTaxi’s bidding system for drivers.

    Upon its launch in Singapore in October this year, Hailo announced its partnership with SMRT and Prime taxis, which gives it a good footing for a service that’s playing catch-up to GrabTaxi, Uber and Easy Taxi.

    Ride options

    • Standard taxi

    The awesome

    • Has the support of SMRT
    • Fully focused on Singapore in Southeast Asia
    • Emphasis on driver welfare
    • Option for cash or cashless payment

    Not so cool

    • Comparatively small fleet of taxis
    • Location detection inaccurate

    What we think

    Hailo is pretty late – actually very late – into the taxi booking game in Singapore. With not much of a unique proposition to set themselves apart from rivals GrabTaxi and Uber, Hailo’s strategy to take a significant slice of the market awaits to be seen.

    On our journey in a Hailo cab, our driver also mentioned that their customer volume still isn’t great, and that take up is slow. That said, their partnership with SMRT, commitment to Singapore and international reputation does ensure that they’re not written off as wannabes just yet.

    With the government spotlight now on these third-party taxi booking apps, the LTA has announced regulations on these third-party taxi booking apps. They will only come into effect in the second quarter of 2015, so we’re paying attention to any further developments and announcements from the government.

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