First rebound after continual shrinkage from 2016
ComfortDelGro starts to grow taxi fleet again Industry leader ComfortDelGro said it has just placed an order for 200 new hybrid Hyundai Ioniq cabs - its first order in nearly 18 months. ST PHOTO: COMFORTDELGRO

Even as new private-hire hopefuls are jostling to fill a void left by Uber, the battered taxi industry is seeing signs of a turnaround.

From reducing the number of cabs by up to 20 per cent since ride-hailing apps arrived five years ago, at least two taxi operators are now growing their fleets again.
Industry leader ComfortDelGro said it has just placed an order for 200 new hybrid Hyundai Ioniq cabs - its first order in nearly 18 months.
"The first batch is due to arrive next month, and will immediately be leased out to the growing line of would-be hirers," said ComfortDelGro spokesman Tammy Tan, adding that the operator last placed an order for new taxis back in December 2016.
The move comes on the back of drivers returning to the taxi fold.
"For the month of April, ComfortDelGro Taxi signed on close to 300 new hirers - nearly double the number same period last year," Ms Tan noted.
She said drivers are seeing their average income increase but she was unable to elaborate.
With the latest purchase, ComfortDelGro will have a fleet of close to 13,000, representing a market share of about 60 per cent. At its height, the company had more than 17,000 cabs.
Meanwhile, Trans-Cab, the second largest cab operator here, will also be increasing its fleet size.
Trans-Cab managing director Teo Kiang Ang said: "A lot of private-hire drivers are coming back to taxis already. We are looking for new diesel vehicles. There are not many suitable Euro 6 diesel models."
Mr Teo said he is looking to add 1,000 to 1,500 more taxis within the next one year.
The company currently has just over 3,000 taxis. At its height, it had close to 5,000.
None of the other taxi companies are known to be planning for growth yet, citing looming uncertainty.
Singapore's taxi fleet stood at nearly 28,800 in early-2015. But when the number of private-hire cars soared from an estimated 4,000 in 2014 - a year after Uber and Grab arrived - to more than 35,000 in 2016, the taxi companies started reeling. Today, the fleet stands at an estimated 21,500.
But the tide may have started to turn again.
Driver Koh Boon Hui, 42, has given up driving for Grab and returned to driving a Prime taxi. "There are fewer incentives since Uber left," he said, referring to the US ride-hailing app firm's exit from South-east Asia in March.
" It's just not worth my while anymore."
The Sunday Times understands some drivers are also unhappy about having to pay more taxes. Unlike cabbies, expenses such as fuel, rental and electronic road pricing are not tax-deductible for private-hire car drivers.
Mr Ang Hin Kee, executive adviser to the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, reckoned the move to purchase new taxis by the two cab companies is motivated by "efforts to replace expired diesel fleets, and also some uncertainty in the private-hire market".
From reducing the number of cabs by up to 20 per cent since ride-hailing apps arrived five years ago, at least two taxi operators are now growing their fleets again.

Industry leader ComfortDelGro said it has just placed an order for 200 new hybrid Hyundai Ioniq cabs - its first order in nearly 18 months.

"The first batch is due to arrive next month, and will immediately be leased out to the growing line of would-be hirers," said ComfortDelGro spokesman Tammy Tan, adding that the operator last placed an order for new taxis back in December 2016.

The move comes on the back of drivers returning to the taxi fold.

"For the month of April, ComfortDelGro Taxi signed on close to 300 new hirers - nearly double the number same period last year," Ms Tan noted.

She said drivers are seeing their average income increase but she was unable to elaborate.

With the latest purchase, ComfortDelGro will have a fleet of close to 13,000, representing a market share of about 60 per cent. At its height, the company had more than 17,000 cabs.

Meanwhile, Trans-Cab, the second largest cab operator here, will also be increasing its fleet size.

Trans-Cab managing director Teo Kiang Ang said: "A lot of private-hire drivers are coming back to taxis already. We are looking for new diesel vehicles. There are not many suitable Euro 6 diesel models."

Mr Teo said he is looking to add 1,000 to 1,500 more taxis within the next one year.

The company currently has just over 3,000 taxis. At its height, it had close to 5,000.

None of the other taxi companies are known to be planning for growth yet, citing looming uncertainty.

Singapore's taxi fleet stood at nearly 28,800 in early-2015. But when the number of private-hire cars soared from an estimated 4,000 in 2014 - a year after Uber and Grab arrived - to more than 35,000 in 2016, the taxi companies started reeling. Today, the fleet stands at an estimated 21,500.

But the tide may have started to turn again.

Driver Koh Boon Hui, 42, has given up driving for Grab and returned to driving a Prime taxi. "There are fewer incentives since Uber left," he said, referring to the US ride-hailing app firm's exit from South-east Asia in March.

" It's just not worth my while anymore."

The Sunday Times understands some drivers are also unhappy about having to pay more taxes. Unlike cabbies, expenses such as fuel, rental and electronic road pricing are not tax-deductible for private-hire car drivers.

Mr Ang Hin Kee, executive adviser to the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, reckoned the move to purchase new taxis by the two cab companies is motivated by "efforts to replace expired diesel fleets, and also some uncertainty in the private-hire market".