Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ask the crowd

Beeline - now that's a brilliant idea that I wished I had thought of. I don't really know who originated it, but Singapore's iDA and LTA appear to be leading the effort (and the business) of providing chartered transport (mostly mini-buses for now). This is yet another challenge to the entrenched taxi service companies such as Comfort and SMRT Taxi for the rush hour crowd. As the fare is much more than the conventional bus, SBSTransit, and the train services run by SMRT, should welcome it as it takes some of the load off the morning and evening rush hour crowd. Some commuters have reportedly given up their taxi commute, which reportedly could go as high as S$20 a trip for a fraction of what Beeline charges. What's more, routes can be created and withdrawn based on commuter demand based on cell-phone bookings. It's something like Uber and Grabtaxi, only this is for a bigger group of travellers who don't mind mingling in a bus. As it is a booking-only service, seats are guaranteed with limited pickup and dropoff points, which is one of its attractions.

The writing is already on the wall. Minister Khaw talked about leveling the playing field between conventional taxi drivers and services like Grabtaxi and Uber, but there is no need to level anything here for the bus companies. Once again, the services that will be affected most are the taxi companies, although not by as much compared to Grabtaxi and Uber-like services. Conventional taxi companies much embrace technology that is becoming prevalent, and they must improve their apps, not just pay lip-service (as in whispering into the ears of one Khaw BW) to it as it appears to be doing now.