SINGAPORE: Singapore’s largest taxi company, ComfortDelGro, has stirred a mix of reactions among its drivers with its recent announcement of adjustments in commission rates and rental rebates, set to take effect from 1 Jan 2024. While some drivers welcomed the rental rebate as a positive measure, others expressed dissatisfaction with the increase in the commission rate.

The company, which boasts a market share of over 60% and a fleet of about 9,000 taxis, issued a notice to drivers last Friday (22 Dec) outlining the changes. Citing rising operating costs attributed to technology maintenance, system updates, and increased handling fees related to cashless payments, ComfortDelGro said that it would be raising the commission rate from the current 5 per cent to 7 per cent.

The adjustment, scheduled to be deducted every Tuesday via GIRO bank transfer, is reportedly meant to ensure the company’s sustainability in the face of economic challenges.

However, to mitigate the impact of the commission rate increase on drivers, the company outlined a temporary relief measure. From Jan 1 to March 31, 2024, no commission will be charged on fares of $9 or less (excluding platform fees and cashless payment fees), irrespective of whether it’s a “ComfortRide” with dynamic charging or metered charging fare.

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Simultaneously, ComfortDelGro sought to appease its drivers by announcing a permanent 10 per cent car rental rebate starting from the same date.

Some drivers have asserted that the increase is too large and that ComfortDelGro should communicate and discuss with the drivers before making adjustments.

One driver, 58-year-old Mr Lin, who has 11 years of experience being a cabbie, even told Lianhe Zaobao that he would choose to take more taxi orders from other private car-hailing platforms such as Grab, given the commission rate hike.

Another driver, 46-year-old Mr Zhang, told the Chinese daily that he is perplexed by ComfortDelGro’s approach as the company had recently raised taxi fares to presumably help drivers cope with higher operating costs and high inflation before suddenly deciding to increase taxi commissions.

On the other hand, some drivers acknowledged the need for the company to secure additional funds for operational sustainability, especially in the current economic climate marked by rising prices.

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While ComfortDelGro navigates these adjustments, private-hire car operator Ryde has made waves in the industry by announcing the complete cancellation of commissions for private-hire cars and taxis starting Jan 2, 2024.

This groundbreaking move by Ryde represents the industry’s first implementation of a zero-commission model, posing potential competition and an alternative for drivers evaluating their options in the wake of ComfortDelGro’s changes.