New ride-hailing services have cut fares and boosted over half of drivers’ earnings: NUS study

The average daily ride-hailing fare has fallen by 11 per cent for commuters, while 55 per cent of drivers have reported an increase in earnings.
The Straits Times

Both drivers and riders have gained from the competition that has been heating up in the ride-hailing sector, according to findings released by the National University of Singapore (NUS) on Wednesday (Oct 2). 

The average daily ride-hailing fare has fallen by 11 per cent for commuters, while 55 per cent of drivers have reported an increase in earnings after Gojek’s entry last November. Of these drivers, 35 per cent saw an increase of more than 10 per cent in their earnings.

Since the Grab-Uber merger in March 2018, there have been new entrants in the market like Ryde and Tada, aside from Gojek. 

The study was commissioned by Gojek, and was conducted independently by the Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations at NUS Business School. It was conducted between July and August 2019 and polled 1,000 different drivers and riders who are users of multiple-ride hailing platforms.

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The findings were released a year after the Competition and Consumer Association of Singapore (CCCS) fined Grab and Uber S$13 million for their merger, which had a negative impact on everyone in the ride-hailing sector. 

The NUS study showed that after the merger, 64 per cent of commuters said they had been adversely affected by the downward revision of customer rewards offered by the ride-hailing platforms.

After that merger, 87 per cent of drivers indicated a decrease in their earnings, 77 per cent of which saw a drop of more than 10 per cent. 

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However, following the entry of new ride-hailing players, the proportion of drivers who are satisfied with incentives offered, have more than doubled compared with that post-merger period. They were most satisfied with “fuel incentive (43 per cent)” and “minimum guaranteed pay-out (31%)” among other benefits.

Ride-hailing is the main source of income for the majority of drivers (56 per cent) polled. Entrepreneurs who are self-employed and supplement their income with ride-hailing earnings, make up the second-largest group of drivers at 26 per cent.

As for riders, eight in 10 said they have more choices now because there are more ride-hailing services available, and 52 per cent reported better availability.

Of polled commuters, 68 per cent said they use ride-hailing apps frequently, ranging from one to 10 times a week, to more than 20 times a week. Nearly half (47 per cent) of all riders surveyed were aged between 20 and 30.

Lawrence Loh is the director of NUS Business School’s Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations.

He said that “healthy competition is an absolute requisite” and that it is “imperative that the ride-hailing market continues to be open, contestable and dynamic” as Singapore “advances towards its 2040 vision of a car-lite, inclusive and even more well-connected transport system”. 

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