ComfortDelGro launches points redeemable for taxi discounts
ComfortDelGro Taxi launches rewards system in bid to boost falling ridership
ComfortDelGro Taxi is targeting public transport users amid falling ridership and increased competition from the private hire industry.
A new initiative named CabRewards+, which gives commuters double reward points if they board a ComfortDelGro taxi within 24 hours of taking a train or bus, was launched by the firm yesterday.
From now until July 31, these "multi-modal" taxi trips will earn 10 times the reward points.
This means that a taxi ride of $10 will earn 100 cab points, which can be used to redeem a variety of rewards such as discounts for taxi bookings via the ComfortDelGro app.
An estimated 1,000 points will allow a $5 redemption.
Mr Ang Wei Neng, chief executive officer of ComfortDelGro Taxi, admitted yesterday that the rewards were not "extravagant" compared to those offered by other companies.
"According to analysts, they are in the business of burning money, at least for now. We are in the business of providing sustainable service, benefits and rewards," he said.
This is not ComfortDelGro's first effort to stay competitive.
We hope that during peak hours, more will swing back to taxis.Mr Ang Wei Neng, ComfortDelGro Taxi chief executive officer
In April, the largest player in the industry here, with a fleet of nearly 16,000 taxis, introduced a flat fare and no surge pricing option to passengers who book a ride through the app.
Last month, it partnered carpooling company Ryde to offer a taxi-booking service.
On Sunday, Lianhe Zaobao reported that ComfortDelGro's daily taxi ridership in the first four months of this year had fallen to an eight-year low.
There was an average of 853,000 rides a day, a 13 per cent drop from the same period last year.
Transport expert Park Byung Joon, who lectures at Singapore University of Social Sciences, thinks that ComfortDelGro is in a "painful" situation because it does not have the financial means to compete with companies such as Uber.
He added: "The rewards would not be attractive enough to commuters. I do not think private hire firms and the taxi industry can co-exist."
But Mr Ang Hin Kee, National Taxi Association executive advisor, called the initiative a "win-win" that will help taxi drivers get more business.
"The public transport landscape has become more competitive, and it is important that our taxi operators continue to innovate and create products and incentive schemes to reward public transport users."
Mr Ang Wei Neng said the new initiative is a "unique proposition that is hard to copy".
Based on a survey, there are "thousands" of commuters who chose a taxi after taking public transport. It could increase to "tens of thousands" depending on conditions such as rain, he added.
He shared that ComfortDelGro had more than a million flat fare bookings since its launch, but "it is not good enough".
He said: "Our clear target is to compete head-on during peak period when we have a clear advantage of supply and no surge pricing. We hope that during peak hours, more will swing back to taxis."
To benefit from this new scheme, commuters have to register their EZ-link card or Nets Flashpay card on the ComfortDelGro app.
For now, the rewards system is only available for taxi trips after bus and train rides on SBS Transit buses or the North-East Line, Downtown Line, as well as the Sengkang and Punggol Light Rail Transit systems.
It will be rolled out to other public transport operators - SMRT, Tower Transit and Go-Ahead - after approval from the Land Transport Authority.