Now that private hire ride-hailing is all the rage in Singapore, what’s become of our original gangster taxis?
Most people I know have switched over to cheaper alternatives like Grab and GoJek, but there are a select few — umm, my parents — who remain loyal to Comfort taxis.
Apparently, these cabbies are “safe drivers” who “always know the way” and “won’t try anything funny”.
It sounds outrageous, but there may be some truth in that.
Unlike young, errant drivers who drive Grab as their side hustle, to get licensed, taxi drivers must 1) be Singaporean and at least 3o years old, 2) have a class 3/3A driving licence with at least 1 year of continuous driving and 3) able to speak and read basic English. I guess that’s why taxi fares are so expensive.
There are a total of 6 taxi operators in Singapore (yes, it’s not just ComfortDelGro), and they all charge slightly different rates for flag-down fares, booking fees, and etc.
TAXI OPERATORS IN SINGAPORE:
- Comfort/CityCab Taxi
- Prime Taxi
- Premier Taxi
- SMRT Taxi
- Trans-Cab Taxi
- HDT Singapore Taxi
If like my folks, you prefer taxis to private hire rides too, here’s a comparison of taxi fares in Singapore.
SINGAPORE TAXI FARE COMPARISON - WHICH IS THE CHEAPEST?
|Singapore taxi operators||Taxi colour||Flagdown fares||Meter rate||Booking fee|
|Comfort Taxis / CityCab||Blue and yellow||$3.20 to $3.90||$0.22||$2.30 (non-peak) / $3.30 (peak)|
|Prime Taxis||Copper||$3.60 to $3.80||$0.22||$2.50 (non-peak) / $3.50 (peak)|
|Premier Taxis||Silver||$3.60 to $3.90||$0.22||$2.50 (non-peak) / $4.50 (peak)|
|SMRT Taxis||Dark purple||$3.90||$0.22||$2.30 (non-peak) / $3.30 (peak)|
|Trans-Cab Services||Red||$3.90||$0.22||$2.30 (non-peak) / $3.30 (peak)|
|HDT Singapore Taxi||White and green||$3.90||$0.25||$2.30 (non-peak) / $3.30 (peak)|
Cheapest taxi fares in Singapore: Comfort Taxis
- Lowest flagdown fare
- Lowest booking fees
- Large fleet
Generally, with the exception of HDT Singapore’s small fleet of electric taxis that are slightly more expensive, the metered taxi prices are about the same.
The flagdown fares are between $3.20 and $3.90, and the meter rates are all the same at $0.22 for every 400m or less (up to 10km), 350m or less (after 10km) and 45 seconds of waiting time.
Comfort taxis only win because they have the lowest flagdown fares.
Cheapest taxi booking fees in Singapore: Comfort, SMRT, Trans-Cab and HDT Singapore Taxis
- Non-peak: $2.30
- Peak: $3.30
Booking fees are also quite competitive. For off-peak, it’s $2.30 to $2.50. For peak, it is $3.30 to $3.50 for most taxis, and $4.50 for Premier Taxis.
FLAT FARE TAXI OPTIONS IN SINGAPORE - COMFORTRIDE AND GRABTAXI
For the longest time, taxis in Singapore charged by the meter. They still do, except there’s now an additional option to pay a fixed, flat fare.
Comfort is the only operator to introduce their own flat fares, but for the rest, you can book through GrabTaxi.
ComfortRide taxi fare calculation:
|ComfortRide fare breakdown|
|Distance fare||$0.50 per km|
|Time fare||$0.15 per minute|
|Additional stops (or extra distance travelled for 5km thereafter or less)||+$5|
GrabTaxi fare breakdown:
|Flagdown fare||$3 to $3.90|
|Booking fee||$2.30 to $4.50|
|Advance booking fees||$6 to $8|
|Distance fares||$0.22 every 400m (>1km to 10km) and $0.22 every 350m (above 10km)|
|Waiting time||$0.33 every 45 seconds|
|Cancellation fee||Free if within 5 minutes. $4 if you can after 5 minutes, or if you are more than 5 minutes late and your driver cancels.|
The GrabTaxi fare breakdown features the same rates as the standard taxi fare rates. It’s calculated based on the distance of your trip.
Grab is partnered with all the taxi operators in Singapore except HDT.
EXPENSIVE TAXIS YOU SHOULD AVOID - WHITE MERCEDES AND LIMO CABS
|Taxis to avoid||Flagdown fares||Meter rate||Booking fee|
|Comfort Limo Cab||$3.90||$0.30||$10|
|SMRT London Cab||$3.90||$0.30||$10|
|Prime Taxi Toyota Vellfire||$4.50||$0.33||$8 (non-peak) / $10 (peak)|
|Premier Taxi Mercedes||$4.50||$0.30||$10|
Chances are, you’ve read taxi horror stories where passengers ended up paying $50 for a ride or something, which is ridiculous. These are real, and they’re because of premium taxis!
All the taxi websites will state the premium car models, but if you’re not familiar with the names, you may not be able to identify them on the road.
It’s not feasible to keep a car model catalogue in your purse, so the easiest way is to just look at the colour: all the premium cabs are white. If it’s a Mercedes (or has “Limo Cab” emblazoned on the cab), then avoid it too.
Although there are premium cabs like the Toyota Vellfire, not all MPVs charge premium fares. There are standard MPV taxis too, so make sure to look at the colour of the cab.
Also, don’t be fooled by the flagdown fare, which may be the same at $3.20 to $3.90 even though the meter jumps 1.5X faster ($0.30 to $0.33 as opposed to $0.22).
OTHER TAXI SURCHARGES TO TAKE NOTE OF
The above-mentioned rates are actually the base fares only. There are bunch of other surcharges that can really add up. These are the same for all taxi operators and will apply no matter which cab you take.
1. Card payment fees
|Credit and charge cards||+10%|
Cash is the best (it’s the cheapest), but if you really don’t have any on you, opt for NETS.
NETS payments are significantly cheaper at a flat $0.30 surcharge. On the other hand, if you use credit/ charge cards, you’ll need to pay a whopping 10% extra.
Note: Although all Comfort taxis (the blue ones) accept cards, not all of the other operators do. If you don’t have cash, it’s best to check with the driver before you hop on.
2. Midnight and peak hour surcharge
|Surcharge||Things to note|
|Peak hours||+25%||6am to 9.30am on weekdays & 6pm to 11.59pm daily|
|Late night||+50%||Midnight to 5.59am daily|
This is the most notorious of all: if you cab during rush hour or in the wee hours of the night, you can expect to pay 25% or 50% more!
There are 2 blocks of peak hours (+25%): between 6am and 9.30am on weekdays and 6pm to midnight daily. That’s basically the two windows before and after work.
And in case you’re thinking of it, flexible hours won’t work. If you start work before 6am, you’ll incur the midnight fare, which is +50%.
3. Location pickup surcharge
|Singapore Expo Centre||+$2 all day, daily|
|City / CBD||+$3 from 5pm to 11.59pm daily|
|Resorts World Sentosa, Seletar Airport, Gardens by the Bay and Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal||+$3 all day, daily|
|Marina Bay Cruise Centre||+$5 from 7am to 11am daily; +$3 for all other times|
|Changi Airport, Changi Air Freight Centre, Airport Police Station and Airport Logistics Park of Singapore||+$5 from 5pm to 11.59pm on Fri, Sat and Sun; +$3 for all other times|
Lastly, depending on your pickup location, you may have to fork out an extra $2 to $5 on top of your fare.
Most of the places — Singapore Expo, Changi Airport and Resorts World Sentosa — are “one-off” ones that most people only visit once in a while, so that’s fine.
The only really annoying one is the surcharge for pickups from the central business district (CBD), especially if you work there.
This article was first published in MoneySmart .