Singapore's Land Transport Authority (LTA) has found a way to out-Uber Uber, by launching a taxi-finding app of its own.
The famously well-regulated island city state already has one of the tightest taxi regimes on the planet, as cabs can only use designated ranks within the central business district. If you're not on a rank, you can't flag one down on the street. The LTA also operates a central booking service for cabs, saving you the hassle of figuring out which to cab company to call.
Come December, the Authority will also offer a new app called “Taxi-Taxi@SG” that will “show the availability and location of taxis across the island, and better match these taxis to commuters.”
“Through an integrated platform map, commuters can easily locate the number of available taxis near them, and broadcast their positions so taxi drivers can identify the exact locations of potential customers,” the Authority says. “Similarly, taxi drivers can make use of this app to cut down the time spent on the roads looking for customers.”
Vulture South's glance at local rates suggests Uber X is only very slightly cheaper than official cab rates, so the upstart's activities aren't likely to be as disruptive as they've been elsewhere. High local car prices are also likely to crimp Uber X's rise.
Few governments make market interventions as decisively as Singapore's, so this app will likely be one of the firmer and faster responses to Uber's rise. ®