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Comfort Plan Uber Team Up in Singapore. Could Australia be Next?

Singapore's biggest Taxi operator ComfortDelGro who own Comfort Taxi and CityCab have announced that they are in talks with ride-sharing service Uber over plans to have a partnership agreement with their Comfort Cabs.

The agreement, which is relying on Uber's involvement would involve around 15,000 taxi's and could be seen as a big step forward for both firms. Comfort hope the deal would see a collaboration with Uber in the management and operation of their fleet. The deal comes after ride-sharing service Grab worked an agreement with competing Singapore Taxi firms.

In an interview with TodayOnline, Singapore University of Social Sciences transport economist Walter Theseira said that without a deal with ComfortDelGro in Singapore:

Uber is just going to have (its) position eroded even further"

Uber is famously known for making itself an enemy of Taxi companies around the world resulting in protests and marches as competing Taxi drivers disapprove of the ride-sharing applications pricing structure. However an agreement would allow - in some part - for hostilities to die down in the taxi reliant country of Singapore.

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Uber Application in use. Image Credit: Mark Warner

This agreement could be a breakthrough for Taxi firms and Uber on a worldwide stage. Should the deal come to fruition and be successful it could open to similar initiatives being done in Australia. In regards to Uber working with Comfort, Professor Peter Newman of Sustainability at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia said:

It looks like a good marriage and one that has been almost inevitable. The collective may start getting into smart shared transport systems.

ComfortDelGro owns Perth Taxi Company Swan, a firm which in recent years had come under heavy criticism for their service and lack of initiative when it comes to adapting to technology. Something that has allowed Uber to surge in popularity in the isolated Western Australian city.

In 2015 Swan and other Taxi drivers took to the streets to fight Uber, leading to the state government to put in various different steps to force Uber to become more a part of the Taxi industry in WA than a ride-sharing platform.

Comfort and Swan have gone some way recently in trying to compete against Uber in Perth with the release of a mobile application which operates similarly to Uber allowing users to order, track and pay for their cab via the app. Despite this the application had issues upon its release, and has a slow adoption rate in comparison to Uber which has thrived.

A solution would be for Swan to work with Uber in Perth, in a similar way to what parent company Comfort is trying to do in Singapore. Australian's love using Uber, and adapted to the service really fast, and one of the reasons it is so popular is the fact it guarantees we get form point A to point B. As long as users can see that their cab is coming to get them, on a well known reliable application, and that they know the price they can expect to pay then I don't see people having an issue with Swan being on Uber.

One are of concern though would be pricing. Currently a taxi from North Perth in Joondalup to Perth CBD costs between $34 and $46 on Uber, whilst with Swan it costs between $56 and $62, a huge differential.

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Comparison between Swan Taxi (Right) and Uber (Left)

Should an agreement come to fruition, a new Uber bracket would possibly have to be made in Perth such as UberTaxi. This bracket though would still most likely have to be cheaper than the current fairs the Taxi's charge as people would still go for the most affordable option they can.

Despite this, it's a partnership which I can see being trailed in Perth if it is successful in Singapore, and one that I feel if worked right could be successful.