Why should Singaporeans Boycott Uber, UberX or Uber Taxi?


With past couple of weeks with Uber company offering free rides under UberX or Uber Taxi, Consumers were delighted that they were able to get two free rides a day. While  the drivers for UberX and Taxis are happily earning to the max.

It brought cheers to consumers and drivers, but there are some angry passengers too. They couldn’t get a free ride after trying to get one after 45 minutes. It’s just a marketing strategy by Uber to market their services to the Singapore consumers.

Let’s get back to reality, here are a list of concern that Singaporeans should think about before using their services again.

1) Credit card information – While the credit card details are stored in the Uber data storage which might be prone by hackers

2) Global Position System (GPS) – Your traveling pattern will be known to unknown as Uber is using GPS to track where your journey starts and ends. Thus disclosing your location to unknown sources.

3) Credit card payment – The payment terminal is not located in Singapore but in United States where you might suffered exchange loss. Right now there isn’t significant different as they are still offering 25% discount on your taxi rides.

4) Unethical ways of doing business

I) Seeking customers to release details of  which taxi drivers and their contact who do not sign up with Uber. While it’s no wrong to share the good things to others, but it’s wrong to share our contact to other people without our permission. It’s the same that as a taxi driver, we do not send out passenger contact details to third parties. It’s the privacy of our rights that the contact must be kept confidential at all times.

II) Which ever taxi drivers that took up their free IPhone and their jobs, received a call from Uber that they are not allowed to use other third parties apps and are told to delete them off. Who are they to mind our business which apps taxi drivers use since they do not have any legal document that say that taxi drivers are not allowed to use other apps. This also create an anti-competition act in Singapore!

5) Most Importantly, Why we Singaporeans should boycott Uber?

While the government are not allowed to ban Uber outright due to the free trade agreement, but What I’m seeking is changing the business model of Uber and UberX which is using metered-charged system (I have previously mention in my blog).

The company comes here to earn money in Singapore without any employment benefit to Singaporeans. Yes they have Singaporean on the ground to run the promotion and signing up drivers. But once they have establish themselves in Singapore, all these job are made redundant. For your information, even their telephone operators are foreigners based overseas, using internet to contact drivers and customers. In other words, their company is nothing but an empty shell in Singapore.

While we welcome foreign companies to set-up their business in Singapore, we need to see economic growth and employment benefit for Singapore. Without any employment benefit to Singaporeans, what the use to welcome this type of company to operate in Singapore? I would rather don’t welcome them at all!

The choice is yours, nobody is stopping you from using Uber! But think again, if any company that comes to Singapore to start business without any employment benefit to Singaporeans, then there will be no job for Singaporeans in the future.

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Disappearing Act by taxi drivers angered Commuters


It’s been the long time that I had written in the blog as I had concentrate my posting in my facebook. With the recent article in the straits times, It probe me to continue writing here.

The articles: Are taxis doing a “disappearing act” just before peak-hour surcharges kick in? Or is it simply a case of demand outstripping supply? What are the ways to improve taxi availability? 

What the report said have some valid points. Commuters and Taxi Drivers have their own point of views.

On the commuters’ side, It’s a pain in the neck during these hours:
1) 7.30am to 10.30am (Monday to Friday except Public Holidays)
2) 5pm till 7.30pm (Monday to Friday except Public Holidays)
3) 9.30pm till 10.45pm (Everyday)
4) 9am till 6pm (Weekends and Holidays)

Why is it pain in the neck during this hours mention above? The only reason that I can offer is, everyone needs a taxi during these hours. Remember, there are currently only about 28,000 taxi plying the roads daily.

Assuming 5% of the population looking for a taxi at these timing, 250,000 commuters are looking for taxi. How many can the taxi take a one go? There is always a timing that the commuters are expected to wait a longer than usual before boarding a taxi, coupled with traffic conditions that taxi drivers have to navigate through.

Being a taxi driver for the last three years, it taught me lots of things and I learn from the trade. The few problems that are causing the slow turnovers in my own perspective view are the followings:

1) Uneven geographical location for taxis. Higher demand in the Housing estate going to CBD or industrial estate, resulting shortage of taxi in the estate further away from the mentioned locations. In the evening, higher demand is on the opposite, higher demand in the CBD and Industrial estate. The government had in facts trying to distribute out the prime location to different areas like IBP, CBP etc, but the taxi drivers are not benefiting is as yet. And sorry, I had been digging my brains for the past one year and I had failed to offer any solutions on this problem yet.

2) LTA had a rule or law that requires Taxi Drivers to follow the commuters instructions on which route to take or take the shortest possible route.  This rule comes about is to ensure that taxi drivers do not take a longer route in order earn the extra dollars which I fully agrees. But this rules might not be applicable during the peak hours as there are jam along the route which resulted in slower turnover of the taxis or taxi being caught in the jam. Sometime by taking a longer route which will enable the commuters reaching the destination faster and sometime cheaper (based on the commuters that commented on the route I had taken).

Due to this rule, taxi drivers are afraid to make any recommendation to their commuters for afraid that they will complain against him especially the CDG Drivers. They will just follow the instruction given. Being caught in the jam will cost the commuters to pay more while taxi drivers earning less.

To solved this problem, the rules should be amended to the following:  Taxi Drivers to follow the commuters instructions on which route to take or take the shortest possible route, suggest whichever possible route to get to the commuters’ destinations.

3) The third reason which I’m going to give might anger some taxi drivers, but I need to be fair on the commuters side too… Master your trade well and you should know where to find commuters in the shortest possible time even in the middle of the night. Take pride with what you do and offer no regrets. New Drivers, do not over depend on GPS and know your route as fast as possible.

Taxi drivers are self employed, they do want to earn the highest possible return in the shortest possible time. It’s the same in any trade, the boss would want to earn the most with the least cost and wages. Commuters, please put yourself in the taxi drivers’ shoe and you will understand why.

Lastly, public transports infrastructure needed to ramp up as fast as possible. With better public transport infrastructure, people will tend to drive less and less traffic congestion on the road which will offer the best solutions for everyone.

New COE categorisation to benefit non-luxury car dealers


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Yesterday, Transport Minister Lui Teck Yew announced changes to the 23-year-old quota system. Starting from Feb 2014, all vehicle under 1600cc with the horsepower of more than 130 Brake Horse Power (BHP) will be categorised under CAT B instead of current CAT A.( Channel News Asia)

Lets first look closer at the those vehicle that are subject to changes (Source: LTA)

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Based on what the Land Transport Authority (LTA) had highlighted during the media briefing and based on 2012 vehicle registration data, almost 50 per cent of CAT A vehicle was registered with a Open Market Value (OMV) more than $20,000.

Assuming that the statistic remain the same at present day, about 350 vehicles registered per month go to premium cars that are more than $20,000 OMV. I believe the number for this year to be higher.

Let us see how the recategorisation will affect COE bidding this Feb 2014.

Scenerio 1

More vehicles under the 130BHP – mainly Toyota, Honda, Suzuki, Hyundai etc, – will be sold due to lesser competition from premium vehicles.

Scenerio 2

Premium car buyers will purchase lower-range vehicles instead of premium cars.

The fall in COE premiums come Feb 2014 will mainly be a result of the increase in deregistration of vehicles which is expected to be around 20 per cent of the total population of 600,000. These are vehicles which are above 8-years old and not from the recategorisation of the COE bidding system.

The immediate effect of the changes will be the raising of COE premiums. This is due to three main reasons:

  1. The would-be premium car buyer will go into the market to purchase the vehicle before the changes kick in. Premium buyers in both categories will face uncertainty this Feb 2014. They will be faced with a low supply of COE certificates but higher demand from both CAT A (those premium cars that will be categorised into CAT B from Feb 2014) and CAT B buyers.
  2. Car dealers will be clearing their old stocks, which is a common thing to do at year-end.
  3. Festive season. With Christmas and Chinese New Year, sales of vehicles will typically increase.

Given the above, premiums for both categories of COEs should be between $80K to $90K till Jan 2014.

When the new system takes effect in Feb 2014, all buyers and even dealers will face uncertainty on how the COE price will move.  Nonetheless, we should keep in mind that the

Feb to Apr period is typically a low season for sales of vehicles, and potential buyers would wait and see before jumping in.

We could therefore see COE prices drop 10 to 20 per cent for CAT A and increase by up to 10 per cent in CAT B in Feb 2014. Premiums should correct by around 5 per cent of Jan 2014 premiums.

My advice to all car buyers: if you are not in a hurry to purchase a vehicle, stay put till end-2014 or 2015 when COE prices will head downward as more cars are deregistered.

The changes announced by the authorities are disappointing because although it may seem that the ministry is cooling the COE prices for the general public, the main reason for the changes is apparently to encourage the sale of non-luxury cars such as Toyota and Honda.

However, it is not a bad reason to introduce the changes to the COE system, after all if the mass market dealers can’t sustain their businesses, they will close shop and Singapore will lose such car dealers who offer vehicles for the masses.

With the number of COEs expected to be increased down the road, premiums should stabilise between $30,000 to $40,000. Once prices have stabilised, I hope that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will raise the Loan Limit from 60 per cent to 80 per cent, making cars more affordable to the masses.

I was a car dealer for four years, selling new and used car. Being sensitive to COE premiums is very critical to us as we had to predict how the prices would move in order to sell the cars. Remember, prediction is always a guessing game and nobody will able to predict correctly always but we can make educated guesses.

It is disappointing to know that the changes are not immediate and will only take effect in Feb 2014. This is different from the changes announced by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, which imposed new loan restrictions on car purchase with immediate effect.

Note: Special thanks The Online Citizen for editing this post.