Taxis, ride-hailing apps hike Tet ride charges

By Anh Tu   January 21, 2020 | 06:35 pm PT
Taxis, ride-hailing apps hike Tet ride charges
Taxi cabs on a congested street in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Duy Tran.
Taxis are refusing to charge by the meter and ride-hailing apps have doubled ‘peak hour’ prices and added surcharges as Tet draws close.

Monday evening, five days before the Lunar New Year (Tet), Hoang Viet requested a car on ride-hailing app Grab. He was surprised to find that his 14-kilometer trip from an office block in Duy Tan street to the Gia Lam Bus Station cost VND280,000 ($12.11), more than double the usual price.

When he tried to request rides on other apps like Be and Fastgo, he found that the prices were cheaper, but was unable to find a driver who would accept his request.

Many others have reported running into similar situations since last week, especially during peak hours when travel demand is high as people rush to shop before Tet.

Ngoc Mai, another resident, said it took her half an hour to call a taxi home after taking her child to a shopping center in downtown Hanoi.

"Before opening the door, the driver asked me for VND120,000 ($5.2) for a 5-kilometer trip. This usually costs VND60,000-70,000 ($2.6-3) on regular days," she said.

Mai then asked three other taxis parked around the mall, but received similarly high quotes, with drivers saying they were charging more because of traffic jams around the city. Mai ended up requesting a ride on an app, but it took 20 minutes for the driver to come to pick her up.

During the ride, Mai’s driver apologized and explained that the roads had become heavily congested over the last few days. Despite his company charging higher fees, he was making only VND1 million ($43) from less than 10 rides, while on normal days, his revenue could go up to VND1.5 million ($65), he said.

"It’s not that we want to reject passengers, but roads are now very busy, especially in downtown streets, where it could take an hour to go just one kilometer. Yes, we have raised prices, but Grab has done so as well," said the driver of a traditional taxi who did not wish to be named.

Taxi prices are expected to go even higher, with most-ride hailing firms adding a surcharge to support drivers during the Tet holiday – from January 23-27.

From Wednesday, passengers will have to pay an extra VND10,000 ($0.43) per trip on GrabBike and VND15,000 ($0.65) on GrabCar, the Singapore-based company has announced.

Local ride-hailing firm Be also said it was adding a surcharge of VND20,000 ($0.86) per car ride during Tet peak times, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 4 p.m.-11 p.m.

Meanwhile, Indonesia-based Go-Viet has said it will charge an additional VND20,000 ($0.86) for GoBike rides for the first 2 kilometers, and an additional VND5,000 ($0.22) for every kilometer after. It will also charge an additional VND10,000 ($0.43) fee per trip during the night.

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