Uber onslaught: who loses, gain?


I refer to the article “Rental cars, unhired taxis sitting idle” (Straits Times, Jan 15)

It states that “Checks by The Straits Times last month revealed that there were close to 1,000 brand new cars – many wearing the Uber-owned Lion City Rental number plates – lying unused at a number of multi-storey carparks here.

This mirrors the situation faced by taxi companies, which are also saddled with well over 1,000 idle cabs.

According to Land Transport Authority statistics, there are around 50,000 rental cars in Singapore – more than three times the rental car population before Uber and Grab entered the fray in 2013.”

Taxi drivers dying?

Anecdotally, taxi drivers may be literally dying.

You may have noticed more taxis cruising empty and more taxis waiting at taxi stands.

Who suffers & who gains?

So, let’s try to examine who may be suffering or gaining from all these

…. taxi drivers – lower earnings as I understand it – by on the average of about 20 per cent or more

… Uber drivers – operating in an increasingly over crowded and competitive environment – more Uber drivers as well as other private hire operators’ driver

… taxi operators – less rentals, less revenue, less profits, etc

… Uber,  etc – reportedly losing money as it continues to grow market share

… car owners in general – more congestion and higher or stable COEs (due  to higher demand for private hire cars) despite the economic downturn

… commuters – more congestion, arguably safety may be compromised with higher risks – more stressed drivers trying very hard to drive longer  or faster to earn the same income as before

Only 1 party benefiting?

Arguably, the only party that may gain from all these may be the government – already collected the COEs,  motorvehicle taxes – increase in fuel taxes, GST (more drivers may increase fuel consumption), more ERP collections, traffic fines, etc.

Transport revenue $9.1b?

In this connection, the revenue of the Ministry of Transport in the last reported financial year was about $9.1 billion.

How to alleviate the suffering?

In the current rapidly deteriorating situation – perhaps we may need to consider reducing or removing COEs, ERP,  vehicle taxes, fuel taxes, etc, on public transport vehicles.

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.