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Private-hire car drivers seek to join taxi firms, as tide turns after Grab-Uber deal | TODAYonline

Mr Kwan Kar Wai, 51, had driven taxis for more than a decade with ComfortDelGro and later SMRT Taxis, before crossing over to Uber last July.

He pointed out that driving for a ride-hailing platform means relying only on app bookings, which is an issue if Grab’s app is down. “Last week, the Grab app was down three times. If I’m a Grab driver, I totally can’t do any jobs, which means I have no income,” he said, pointing to the string of disruptions which hit the ride-hailing app last week.

Taxi drivers, on the other hand, have alternatives. “I can still do street pick-ups… or queue at the taxi stands or any of the hotels or Changi Airport,” he said.

Potentially lower incomes was also an issue, said Mr Kwan. He noted that a journey from Aljunied to Jurong in the west could cost S$19, or about S$15 after deducting the 20 per cent cut Grab takes from its drivers. “It’s considered quite low. Price-wise, Uber’s a bit higher than Grab,” he said.

Former Trans-Cab cabbie-turned-Uber driver, Mr Lau Kok Bin, 50, said he moved to the private-hire car sector in the middle of last year in hopes of snagging higher earnings.

However, he has been faced with the opposite. As a taxi driver, he took home around S$4,000 a month after deducting rent and petrol, compared with about S$2,500 presently. He lamented that much time is spent on the roads reaching customers, only to find that they have cancelled their bookings. “I should go back to taxis again. I still can pick up customers outside… and by the meter,” he said.

Grab has said that drivers who have signed on with LCR — typically on a six-month or one-year contract — will be able to accept Grab bookings. After their contract expires, they can opt to rent a car from GrabRentals.

But part-time Uber driver Alvin Chiam, 46, said the “lack of incentives makes it very hard to justify driving (for Grab)”. He noted that there are “too many negative comments” on Facebook about Grab’s “low fares and infrequent surge (pricing)”.

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TODAYonline | Private-hire car drivers seek to join taxi firms, as tide turns after Grab-Uber deal.