It’s Official: There’re More Uber / Grab Drivers Than Taxi Drivers in S’pore


In the past, Uber and Grab have been relatively tight-lipped about the number of drivers they have. It gets even more ambiguous when one is allowed to drive for both companies.

The closest we can get is that there’re “more than 50,000 Grab drivers in Singapore” from a Grab spokesperson early this year, which doesn’t indicate whether they’re just GrabCar drivers or any driver using any Grab services (e.g. GrabTaxi, GrabHitch…etc).

However, now that private-hire drivers are required to have a vocational licence (or at the very least, apply before 30 June 2017) in order to continue driving, the numbers are out, and you’ll either be surprised or go “meh, I expected that”.

According to LTA, as of 21 June 2017, there has been about 39,000 applications for Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational Licence (PDVL). Drivers need to apply before 30 June 2017, and undergo the course within a year of application, in order to continue driving.

It’s common sense to expect even more applications to come in in the next few days, because last-minute work is part of our culture (no?). I won’t be surprised if the number balloons to over 45,000, but let’s just work with the number of 39,000 (since, apparently, only 33,000 have been granted the licence)

From 1 July 2017 onward, cars that are used for private-hire are also required to have a tamper-evident decal on the front and back of the car. By now, you should have seen many of these everywhere: if the car plate starts with SL something, and it’s not a luxury car, chances are it’s a private hirer’s car.

Earlier this year, it’s reported that the taxi population is at 27,500. Even with lower rentals, a taxi driver says that earnings are down by 20%. Kind of expected, isn’t it?

Now, while we can argue that the 27,500 is the number of taxis, and the 39,000 is the number of private hirers (i.e. drivers), you can’t deny the fact that the difference is almost more than 40%.

In 2016, the total number of private cars, which includes owned cars and rental car, is at 555,496. If all the applicants drive, that’s like out of the 100 cars (exclude taxis) you see on the road, 7 of them are private hirer’s cars.

I don’t know about you, but the key lesson here is this: the disruption is real, and it’s coming fast and furious.

After all, Uber came to Singapore in 2013 and GrabCar in 2014. It’s now only 2017, my friend.

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