What to consider when driving for Uber or Grab

In the continued battle for market dominance between Uber and Grab (MY) across SE Asia, Uber just announced that it has lowered fares in Singapore by 15%. With a base price of $3, lower than local taxis, Uber is hoping to convince users to stay on their app. However, when it comes to the drivers, Uber isn’t winning over any fans. In the many interviews we conducted with Uber drivers, they all express a frustrated sentiment with the company. Or, as one driver put it “I don’t trust Uber, it’s like partnering with a shady company.” Drivers are constantly frustrated by the changes in fares and promotions. With less than 24 hours notice for policy changes, and fee adjustments occurring almost weekly, drivers have a hard time keeping track of fares and find the company unreliable. Many drivers shared with me the breakdown of their fees which, surprisingly often, only covered their costs.

Here are some things to consider when driving for Uber in Singapore:

  • During peak hours taxi drivers usually charge an additional fee. Uber does not. Therefore, many drivers only accept fees during price surges. In addition, since drivers pay ERP to enter the central business district, a full calculation often shows that drivers loose money on rides from CBD.
  • Uber takes 20% of commission, similar to Grab, but there is no minimum on the fares which often means rides taken during peak traffic hours do not even cover the driver’s costs.
  • Uber changes their fee structure every single week. With just a few hours notice.
  • Uber often offers drivers a set fee during peak hours (i.e., this week it’s $27 between 5-8 pm.)
  • On long distances Uber fees structure is quite worth it for drivers.

All of these changes within Uber, of course, come on the heels of Grab’s promo over the last two weeks which offered up to 10 free rides within the Central Business District-quite a large area for Singapore passengers. As a whole, drivers for Grab expressed significantly nicer feelings towards the company and felt that, although it was long hours for little pay, it was more worth it. Here are some things to note when driving for Grab in Singapore:

  • There is a minimum fare of $8 which means you make quite a decent profit on the short local trips.
  • Since you can see the fare ahead of time, you can better calculate your costs and decide to accept an offer or not.
  • Because of the set fare, farther distances can sometimes bet stressful if there is congestion on the roads. Use navigation that includes traffic conditions.
  • Grab’s technology is quite buggy and the maps often do not take you the shortest distance. The more routes you know the better you can game the set fare.

If you’re a rider or driver of these apps, in Singapore or any other Asian city, please drop us a note and update us on conditions or thoughts for others!

Stay tuned as we continue  update you on this battle of the road between Uber and Grab!