Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, Can't Live Without 'Em
Singapore taxis are, no doubt at all, a good choice for getting around. They are plentiful, safe and fairly cheap, in spite of the recent rate hike.
The industry is strongly regulated by the government and stiff penalties apply to drivers who tout, gouge, bloat the fare or otherwise treat you badly.
And that makes for very little hassle and headaches with Singapore taxis.
8 Companies - One Fare Schedule
There are currently 8 companies servicing the island with a fleet of more than 20,000 vehicles.
Comfort and CityCab are by far the largest operators, followed by SMRT Taxis, Trans-Cab, Premier, Smart, Prime and Yellow Top.
Not to worry, though. The same standards and fare schedules apply to all companies and all of them drive similar cars, mostly Toyotas, Hyundais and Nissans.
In addition, you can also book a number of Limo, Maxicab and Minicoach operators for larger parties.
Check this site on
Taxis in Singapore
for a good overview of all Singapore taxis.
Regular Singapore taxis fares start at about SGD 3.20 with a kilometer price of about SGD 0.60 (Oct 2011). That is actually not too bad a price and even a long drive from West to East will come to about SGD 25-30.
Peak hours, midnight hours, holidays and some location surcharges like the airport and CBD completely change the situation, though.
- Peak hours (6-9.30am and 6 pm - midnight): add 25% to metered fare
- Midnight (12-6am): add 50% to metered fare
- CBD (5pm - 12 midnight): add SGD 3.00
- Airport: SGD 3.00 - 8.00
- Public holiday: SGD 1.00
- Booking fees: SGD 2.50 - 5.20
Tolls also apply if you go through ERP (electronic road pricing) gantries, so using a taxis in Singapore to go to work and back can become pricey.
Here's a general idea of the price differences from my home to work, about 14 km.
- flag down regular hours: SGD 12.00
- pre-booking regular hours: SGD 17.50
- pre-booking peak hours:SGD 22.50
- pre-booking midnight: SGD 21.60
- pre-booking public holiday: SGD 18.50
Add idling in traffic jams during peak hours and my bill went up to SGD 26.00.
Try out some routes with this useful
Singapore taxis fare calculator.
Booking and Flagging Down
Getting a Singapore taxi is often as simple as standing by the next road and waving for a few seconds.
Alternatively, each cab company has a booking hotline with a convenient SMS service available. They also store your last two locations in the system so you don't need to wait for an operator.
- CityCab: 6552 1111
- Comfort Taxi: 6552 1111
- SMRT Taxis: 6555 8888
- SMART Cabs: 6485 7777
- TransCab: 6555 3333
- Premier Taxis: 6363 6888
- Prime Taxi: 6778 0808
- Yellow-Top Taxi 6293 5545
Most malls or landmarks have stands for cabs but flagging down is normal.
The drivers may not stop at bus stops, certain intersections or roads with two squiggly yellow lines that look like parallel lightning bolts.
Most drivers will know the general neighborhoods, landmarks or larger roads and junctions, so it is best to give them that information rather than the small side street you are going to.
Rain, Caffeine, Pensioners, Tips and Stories
I mentioned you can start hating cabs here, in spite of the convenience and manageable cost.
When it rains in Singapore, it really comes down hard. That means everybody is trying to get a cab.
You can sometimes easily wait 30 minutes at a curb, a taxi stand or even just on the booking hotline before you even get in a car. And then you wait in traffic jams and watch the meter tick along.
Your typical driver will be an early pensioner running 14-hour days to get the daily vehicle rental and gas in, plus his actual income. Some of them seem to live on coffee alone. Combine that with sometimes dubious driving skills and you are happy to arrive home without major issues.
Tips are not required, nor expected. I usually round up to the next dollar. Some drivers - especially when you chat nicely - even round down to the next dollar - imagine that!
All in all, you can get some good stories and very frank opinions on life, the world and everything from your average Singapore cabby. Try it out - you'll really enjoy it.
Back to the main site on transportation options in Singapore.