Uber promises 5-10% lower fares with launch of new ComfortDelGro collaboration

The launch of UberFlash, a collaboration between Uber and ComfortDelGro, was announced on Jan 18. From left: Uber driver-partner Jameson Chin; Uber Singapore general manager Warren Tseng; Uber Asia Pacific chief business officer Brooks Entwistle; ComfortDelGro chairman Lim Jit Poh; ComfortDelGro group CEO Yang Ban Seng; ComfortDelGro Taxi CEO Ang Wei Neng, and ComfortDelGro taxi driver Frankie Chew.
Business Insider Singapore / Jessica Lin

Uber Singapore has teamed up with ComfortDelGro to launch a new service called UberFlash, which promises shorter waiting times and fares between five to 10 per cent lower than that offered on the existing UberX option.

Details of the collaboration between the ride-hailing tech company and the Singapore taxi company were revealed on Thursday (Jan 18), slightly more than a month after the taxi company first announced it was taking a 51 per cent stake in Uber’s Lion City Holdings business.

Mr Ang Wei Neng, CEO of ComfortDelGro Taxi, said UberFlash would be the first in a series of collaborative efforts between the two companies.

“We are leveraging on each other’s strengths to improve our service which will benefit our drivers, commuters and Singapore’s economy at large,” he said.

Starting from Friday (Jan 19) at 6am, Uber users will be able to book UberFlash rides on the Uber app.

 UberFlash is expected to offer fares between five to 10 per cent lower than that offered on the existing UberX option.
Business Insider Singapore / Jessica Lin

Uber Singapore’s general manager, Mr Warren Tseng, said at the launch event that the addition of ComfortDelGro’s taxis is expected to help reduce waiting times for riders as the pool of drivers will be given a boost.

“What we’ve learned… is that when you are able to provide a very reliable ride, when you’re able to reduce waiting time for someone to for someone to get their ride, this product will become very very sticky, it becomes very addictive and the customer will come back over and over again,” Mr Tseng said.

UberX in Singapore currently has an average waiting time of less than 5 minutes.

Mr Tseng is hoping to make the Uber app stickier with the introduction of the new service, so that it will be the first app of choice for riders.

At the same time, ComfortDelGro taxi drivers who have signed up for the programme can supplement their earnings during off-peak hours, Mr Tseng said.

“It’s an additional channel for additional business, and it helps ensure that they spend less time driving around looking for customers and more time with a paying customer in their backseat,” he said.

ComfortDelGro taxi drivers who opt to be part of Uber’s network will also have access to features in the Uber app such as 24/7 phone support and a customer heatmap, which tells drivers which areas in Singapore are experiencing higher customer demand.

Uber Singapore’s GM Warren Tseng said the company has had “tremendous” interest from ComfortDelGro’s drivers so far.
Business Insider / Jessica Lin

While he did not reveal the number of taxi drivers who have signed up for the programme, Mr Tseng said there had been a “tremendous amount of interest” from ComfortDelGro drivers so far.

Unlike UberTaxi, which is open to taxi drivers from all companies and runs on metred fares, UberFlash will feature upfront fares inclusive of tolls in the same way UberX does.

Under the agreement, Uber will take a 10 per cent commission from ComfortDelGro drivers, instead of the usual 20 per cent it takes from its driver-partners.

Despite this, Mr Jameson Chin, 32, an Uber driver-partner of eight months, says he is not worried about the addition of ComfortDelGro’s fleet because he expects it to lead to an increase in customers.

“Ultimately, everything is about supply and demand. It’s hard to say what will happen next because we are (only) launching tomorrow morning, but I’m quite positive about the outcome,” Mr Chin said.

Taxi driver Stannley Chiok, 43, was also not bothered by the lower fares he would be collecting on UberFlash trips.

“With more jobs coming in, you get better income. It is better than driving an empty cab on the road searching for passengers,” he said.

But now that there is one more platform to look at, Chiok admits he will need some time to get used to having an additional income option.

“We’ll need to have more practice to get more comfortable with it,” he said.