Sunday, May 11, 2014

My GrabTaxi Experience

Taxi in Singapore is simply unreliable. Taxi drivers are very choosy and it is usually difficult to find one even if you are trying to book a taxi through phone. For this reason, I usually try not to use one even most of my taxi demand comes from work travels and they are paid by the company. In the past, I had been late to meetings when I assumed that I will find a taxi. Unfortunately, I still need taxi. And when i need one, it is still difficult to find one.

Last week, I needed to take a taxi from Senkang to Somerset MRT Station. I tried calling Comfort and SMRT but no taxi was available after half an hour try. Then I remembered GrabTaxi, which was on the news for a few times (they are in the news since securing additional funding of US$10 million plus from Vertex Venture Holdings of Temasek Holdings in early April).

GrabTaxi, known as MyTeksi in Malaysia, is a location based booking and dispatch platform for the taxi booking. I actually heard it in late 2013 in Kuala Lumpur a lot where everybody was suggesting me to download MyTeksi app for bookings.

GrabTaxi is relatively new to Singapore but already there are 10,000+ taxi drivers registered to it. This is a big number since the largest taxi operator in Singapore, Comfort, has about 16,600 cabs. And with the popularity of the application, number of drivers registered is increasing fast.

Downloading its free 5 MB app to my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 took a few minutes (GrabTaxi is a smartphone based platform). Registering an account was also easy. I entered my location and the destination and started trying. I booked a taxi in my 4th try (in 15 minutes).

Since I have downloaded GrabTaxi, I have used it 4 times. Up to now, I can only say good things about it. This is a great app, one of the most useful smartphone apps I have ever used. It really adds value to your daily life. Here are my comments on it:

It works. Yes there are many fancy features of the application like watching the booked taxi on the map but the best thing about GrabTaxi is that it works. I used it 4 times and in almost all of these occasions my first choice was a taxi queue or trying to call operator booking services. They did not work but GrabTaxi worked. I found one in at most 5th try which is 15 to 20 minutes time.

Entering the destination is one of the best things about the application. Since taxi drivers are very choosy in Singapore, if you are going a long distance (which is the case with most of my taxi demand), you have better chance to be picked up. I wish I had this when I was in Bedok. Many taxi drivers did not take me from the street or call bookings were not answered. I asked the reason to many drivers and most told me that since I had a bag and looked like an IT professional, they thought I was going to Changi Business Park which is quite a short drive away  from my previous flat. In fact, I was usually going to city center.

You can watch the taxi and call the driver. In my second booking, I saw the driver took a wrong turn in my huge HDB estate and I could call him and give him the directions. In another, I saw him on the map, estimated his arrival time and went in the mall to buy a tea.

You can share your location with others. This is quite a nice feature. Although Singapore is safe, it is still good to be able to send your location to people so they can see where you are.

I am not using taxi operators' phone lines and operator booking apps any more. And I agree with Hafizah Osman from when she says "don't even bother calling the Comfort, SMRT, or Trans-Cab booking hotline, you'll only need this app". GrabTaxi works because it addresses taxi demand and supply problem.

There may still be some improvements. One taxi driver told me that he wanted to get my booking but it disappeared so fast because of many taxi requests. He somehow managed to find my request and grab it.

Below is an image explaining how to use GrabTaxi.

how to use GrabTaxi
how to use GrabTaxi

I have also heard about this Easy Taxi which does not require a booking fee (when you book through GrabTaxi, you pay standard booking fee).

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