On 7th October 2017, Singapore experienced one of its greatest MRT
meltdowns breakdowns ever. Water had seeped into the tunnels and affected 13 stations on the North-South Line. A fire also broke out in the tunnel between Raffles Place and Marina Bay station.
Thousands were affected by the breakdown and were rushing towards the free bus services provided. Not too long later, the bus stops outside the affected stations were also ‘flooded’ with people. It was so packed that some were standing on the road.
During this period of heightened demand, private-hire drivers were all in standby mode to provide riders with a route out of the chaos at the MRT stations and send them to their destinations, something the MRT train has failed to do.
However, they were in from a rude shock from their partner, Uber. Uber has announced that they will be working with LTA to assist the MRT service disruption and will suspend temporarily suspend surge pricing until 12 midnight. They will compensate Uber drivers with a fare boost of 1.5X for all trips in the affected area.
Scoring points at Driver’s Expense
Everybody knows what Uber is trying to do. For all the fiasco that has been happening to them worldwide, it is the perfect opportunity to score some points with our garment and people. Singapore is one of few countries where Uber have successfully cleared all the regulatory red tapes and operated successfully.
However, their actions have incensed drivers. The pause in surge pricing effectively means driver makes much lesser in a period where they had the opportunity to make much more. In the past, it was reported that fares can surge up to 3X to 5X during these periods of heightened demand.
Drivers were upset that they were made to suffer the financial cost for Uber’s heroics on Saturday.
The 1.5X boost was insufficient to compensate the loss in earnings that Drivers could have made during a Saturday evening, where prices are surging islandwide.
The question now that Uber Drivers are asking now is, will turning off the surge become a norm for all future MRT breakdowns?
The biggest losers on Saturday
Commuters on the North-South line stuck in the trains
Uber Drivers who were restricted by the surge but had to carry on driving to clock trips for incentives. Many of these drivers are full-time drivers drawing a salary and incentives.
The biggest winners on Saturday
GrabCar Drivers who were picking up high fare trips from affected areas
Taxi Drivers whose metred fare is increasing during every the journey
Reminder to our Uber Heroes who ferried riders during the no-surge period, check your statements carefully to ensure that you are paid your fare boost