We know that there are several taxi companies operating in Singapore, each having different base fares depending on which vehicle model you ride in. We’ll use the cheapest base fare out there – the Comfort Hyundai Sonata – to represent all taxis. Oher than the base fare, taxi rides are charged in pretty much the same method, as shown above.

In the middle of April, Uber announced that UberX fares would be reduced by about 15%. Here’s how the breakdown looks like after the fare reduction:

Grab vs. Uber: Which Is Cheaper?

In response to Uber’s fare reduction, Grab also decided to reduce their fares, even removing the minimum fare cap of $8 altogether. Here’s how Grab’s fare structure now looks like:


Now that we know the changes in each service’s fare, let’s look at three scenarios and find out which option is cheapest.

Let’s look at three typical taxi journeys and find out how much each service would cost us. Do note that for each comparison, we won’t include ERP costs, since each service passes them on to the customer anyway.

1. 8am Journey From Home In Potong Pasir To Work In Raffles Place – 9.5km, 15 minutes


On the surface, it’s clear that the newly reduced UberX fares wins this comparison by the slightest of margins. However, there are lots of assumptions in the calculation, of course. For one, that there is no traffic jam during your morning peak hour commute. Since taxis and UberX both charge based on time taken, it would probably be safer to go with GrabCar, which doesn’t charge you by the second.

That said, GrabCar does practice dynamic pricing, based on demand and supply in the area at the point in time you make the booking. That said, since you are already quoted the fare even before you book, there should be no surprises.

2. 1pm Commute From Office In Raffles To Bishan — 12km, 20 minutes


To no one’s surprise, when there is no peak hour surcharge, taxi fares emerge as significantly cheaper compared to the other two private car companies. Note that in this illustration, the journey happens before 5pm. After 5pm, there is a $3 City Area surcharge imposed by Comfort and CityCab taxis.

3. 12.30am Ride From Clarke Quay To Home In Potong Pasir — 8km, 12 Minutes

Grab vs. Uber: Which Is Cheaper? Grab vs. Uber: Which Is Cheaper?

After midnight, UberX is the clear winner, especially if your driver can get you home in record time because of the relatively clear roads. Do take note that UberX, like GrabCar, is subject to surge pricing, which means that prices are temporarily inflated to ensure supply can meet demand. The good news is that usually, from my experience, surge pricing doesn’t last more than 3-5 minutes, unless you’re in a really popular area.


So which service is better?

In each of the three scenarios, there is a different winner, despite the fare reductions.

GrabCar Economy is usually best for journeys when there is a risk of traffic jams, presuming that Grab’s dynamic pricing formula doesn’t already factor that extra traveling time in.

Taxis are best for journeys where there is no surcharge, which means between 9.30am and 6pm on weekdays and 6am to 6pm on weekends and public holidays. Do note that depending on the taxi model, you might end up paying slightly more, but not enough to warrant taking a private car.

UberX is the best option for rides after midnight, which is nice to know, especially since most public transport operations would have ceased by then. Look out for the surge pricing that usually happens during these times, but remember that they normally don’t last too long.

Ultimately, the fare reductions seem to have resulted in a more fair playing field for consumers, resulting in lower transport costs regardless of when your journey begins.

Text: Peter Lin/MoneySmart 

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