Which is best? Uber, Grab, or regular taxis?

Your alarm buzzes wildly, you wake up flustered only to realise that you have exactly 20 minutes left to go to school/work. There’s no way you can take the MRT now – it’s highly unreliable, what if it breaks down? You brush your teeth and wash yourself real quick (I hope) before whipping out your smartphone and choosing Uber. No wait you choose Grab. Or do you just run down to flag a cab? The dilemma is real.

The question everyone seems to be asking in Asia is not: “Will Trump or Clinton win?”, but “Which is better? Uber, Grab, or regular taxis?”. The answer is not so simple as you think. But here is some information that will help you decide.

Before we talk about the unique features of each mode of transport, let’s look at how fares are charged. A regular taxi has a base fare of $3.00-$3.40, whereas UberX starts at $3.00 and GrabCar Economy at $2.55. The basic fares and how it works can be seen below:

At this point, we must not forget the devil in the details: surcharge. A Grab ride has additional surcharges such as additional waiting time ($5 for every 10 minutes), toll charges at ERP/Sentosa incurred from pick-up point to destination, and additional stops ($5 per stop within 5 km).

Uber’s surcharges are a little different as they involve supply and demand – with fewer drivers and a higher demand for an Uber ride, the price automatically increases (they call this Dynamic Pricing). This may seem alright until you realise a woman paid $169 for her Uber ride.

Regular taxis have numerous surcharges, these include ERP charges, midnight surcharge (50% of metered fare), peak hour surcharge (25% of metered fare), city area surcharge ($3.00), and location surcharge. Perhaps the most irksome of all would be their refusal to pick up passengers even though they’re available.

For those in need of an example, a 20 minute commute at 1pm and covering 12km will cost $10.80 with a regular taxi, $12.40 with UberX, and $12.60 for GrabCar Economy according to moneysmart.sg.

Is there a clear winner in this 3-way battle royale? No. There are too many factors in this fierce rivalry. However, we can assure you that the heat surrounding the competitive transportation industry is not cooling down anytime soon – with Uber and Grab constantly offering $5-$10 off or free rides and coming up with many different promotions every week (sometimes every day). Depending on your travel distance, you could easily score free rides.

Ultimately, all of them will bring you to your preferred destination (unless you really want to play tennis or football and in a hurry, then we recommend SBS).


By John Pravin