Tada Taxi aims to be mother of all taxi-booking apps in Singapore

Kay Woo, the founder of MVL Foundation, which runs Tada. — TODAY pic
Kay Woo, the founder of MVL Foundation, which runs Tada. — TODAY pic

, Nov 15 — Commuters looking to book a taxi ride without having to deal with surge pricing now have a new option.

Tada Taxi, a new app launched today with a pool of 2,000 cabbies, aims to get taxi drivers of all stripes on board.

Unlike ride-hailing platform Grab, Tada Taxi will not take a cut from the drivers.

The company behind the app, Mass Vehicle Ledger (MVL), is also not imposing any levy on the booking fee of S$2.30 to S$3.50 (RM7 to RM10.70) set by the respective taxi companies.

MVL’s latest offering comes nearly four months after it entered the rail-hailing market with the Tada app, which has about 19,000 private-hire car drivers and 110,000 users signed up.

To recruit cabbies for the Tada Taxi app, MVL went to locations where they typically gather to spread the word about its zero-commission model.

The company also engaged all taxi companies, including ComfortDelGro and SMRT Taxis (which operate booking apps of their own) as well as smaller players like Premier Taxis, Prime Taxi and Trans-Cab Services.

No formal partnerships have been inked, but the response has been forthcoming, especially among Premier drivers, noted Jonathan Chua, general manager of MVL.

Its relationship with the various companies is also “cordial”, he said.

In a statement, Premier Taxis managing director Lim Chong Boo said it welcomes the new entrant “in support of the local transport authorities’ initiative for open and contestable markets”.

“We are happy to note that Tada supports our objectives to keep taxi fares affordable but yet rewarding for our business partners (taxi drivers) to work on improving their service level to meet commuter needs,” Lim added.

TODAY has reached out to ComfortDelGro — the biggest taxi operator here — and SMRT Taxis for comment.

Meanwhile, Tan How Ing, centre director of the Singapore Taxi Academy, has endorsed the app. He called Tada Taxi “one of the tools (taxi drivers) should master”.

At the launch at MVL’s office at Oxley Bizhub in Ubi, MVL chief executive officer Kay Woo said its target is to get at least 5,000 cabbies on board by the end of the year.

This will enable users to have a “smoother” experience, said Woo, 38.

Tada Taxi will offer taxi drivers a “fairer deal” than on Grab, Woo added.

In his experience, nine in 10 bookings on JustGrab — which automatically assigns the nearest vehicle — were fulfilled by a private hire car driver.

This could be a “bad case of statistics”, but with such a disparity, “I don’t think taxi drivers are getting a fair deal”, he said.

Grab charges a commission of 60 cents commission for standard taxi bookings. For JustGrab bookings, the commission is 3 per cent for fares below S$10, and 12 per cent for bookings above S$10.

If Tada Taxi takes off, “we believe that the ridership of taxis will be increased”, Woo added.

Filling a gap with ’s exit

After Uber’s exit from the Singapore market in May, Woo said it was common to hear of commuters switching to ComfortDelGro’s app during rush hour to avoid surge pricing on the Grab platform.

He felt taxi drivers with operators deserved “a fair opportunity”, and that consumers who wanted to book a taxi ride should have more choices.

Asked why MVL launched a new app instead of integrating the new service within the Tada app,

Woo said this was to give taxi drivers “a ride-hailing platform of their own so they can reach more riders”.

MVL applied for the licence to be a third-party taxi-booking service provider with the Land Transport Authority in September, and its licence was granted last Wednesday (Nov 7).

Tada Taxi’s launch comes ahead of the imminent entry of Indonesia-based ride-hailing app Go-Jek, which will launch its beta app in Singapore before Christmas.

Woo said MVL does not rule out collaborating with Go-Jek. “Our philosophy itself is that we don’t compete against anybody. If they can work with us, we can work with them.”

MVL, which touts itself as a not-for-profit outfit in the transport business, plans to make money by selling data such as driving speeds, traffic records and vehicles’ repair history to third parties, such as autonomous-driving research laboratories and insurers, with users’ consent.

The Singapore-based company is currently focusing efforts on driving the mass adoption of its services, and is busy rolling out its services in key South-east Asian markets such as , and .

Woo said it has disrupted the Singapore ride-hailing market with its zero-commission offering. “Drivers said that some other new entrants, new ride hailing services entering into the Singapore market (will) have no choice. They have to either go zero-commission or not enter (at all),” he said.

MVL declined to disclose the number of rides Tada had fulfilled so far, citing the sensitivity of the data. But it said the number of active drivers has increased by 25 per cent month on month.

Asked about Tada as a competitor, Grab said: “We welcome competition and have always been facing vibrant competition in every business vertical we operate in.

“Regardless of competition, we remain focused on improving the experience for our users, partners and merchants. We have a lot of work to do as we build towards our vision of becoming an everyday super app.”

Comfort cabbie Ng Kin Fook, 63, who is on the Grab and ComfortDelGro platforms, told TODAY he is reluctant to sign up with another app, despite a zero-commission proposition.

“Two is enough. I don’t want another app because it would get very messy (when taking bookings) and I might need to carry another handphone in the car,” said the taxi driver of 10 years.

Premier cabbie Jason See signed up with Tada Taxi on Monday after Premier spread the news via its bulletins to drivers.

“It is always good to have more sources of income, more choices,” said See, 39.

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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