Spun out again and taxis

This morning I went to a spinning class, for the first time in almost two weeks. I was worried I’d spend the whole 45 minutes hawking up phlegm, butvi survived without any disgusting moments. I also managed to surpass my previous best maximum wattage (over 600 watts for the first time, if we can believe the console on the bikes) and afterwards I felt quite pepped up by the experience.

I inhaled a bottle of fruit juice and caught a taxi over to a condo near Orchard Road, where La Serpiente Aquatica Negra was having her weekly swimming lesson. I think after a hard workout I probably should have had more to eat, but instead I bobbed up and down in the water for twenty minutes, while my daughter kept throwing herself into the pool. And then we went home.

Time and exercise caught up with me then, and I woke up after a two hour nap, ravenous, but with no idea of what to eat apart from a tofurkey sandwich.

Later in the afternoon we tested out some new taxi services. Although Uber have been in operation in Singapore for at least a year, the environment is a bjt different to the US, where taxis seem to be poorly regulated and only vaguely organised. In Singapore, there’s three or four taxi companies, all tightly regulated, and already using booking apps. (The apps aren’t very nice and there’s other disadvantages, like no taxis taking Visa for payment in Singapore and some only taking cash, but it doesn’t feel like there’s so much opportunity for improvement as in the US, where every taxi seems to be a clapped out ex-police Crown Victoria driven by somebody who’s lost.

(There are other cool things you can do in Singapore, with its more granular postcodes, like book a taxi by SMS, which again makes me question the incremental value of taxi booking apps, but that’s another story.)

As well as Uber there’s Grabtaxi, funded partly by Temasek, the Singaporean government’s investment fund (and thus providing some stamp of approval the invaders don’t have), and the taxis we took today had window stickers for Grabtaxi prominently displayed, but were quite happy to use other apps to get business. Uber are apparently offering 25% discounts on fares until the end of the month, I suppose to build market share, but it doesn’t appear the drivers have any loyalty, or any need to commit to just one of these companies.

Still, the advantage of the taxi apps is that you don’t need to use cash, and since I’ve given my credit card to the app, I can use Visa to pay for a taxi via a single tap of a touchscreen. That’s really not that much better than handing a card to the taxi driver to make payment, except the taxi drivers wouldn’t take Visa.

So I am sceptical about foreign taxi-booking apps making much headway in Singapore, at least in the short term: the problems they solve in other countries aren’t very big ones here, and the credit card use case is probably something of an outlier, unless we restricted to taxi passengers who only carry Visa. At least for the short term, we can enjoy all the discounts these competitors are offering for our (not loyal enough) custom.

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