Car-Sharing in Singapore: Convenience With a Catch
In light of the significant expenses associated with car ownership in Singapore, car-sharing has emerged as a viable option for individuals who desire the comfort of a car but are not willing to incur the associated costs.
Yet, in recent years, there have been many reports on traffic road accidents caused by these car-sharing vehicle fleets.
Experts have called for more extensive studies to understand the impacts of more car-sharing vehicles on Singapore roads. This is especially so as there is evidence pointing to the causative link between car-sharing and the number of road traffic accidents.
A 2019 research paper found that this is due to drivers' irresponsible attitudes, particularly among experienced drivers who had little respect for the vehicles as they did not own them. Other reasons for the accidents include the driver’s lack of experience in driving and insufficient checks by companies on drivers' competency.
In Singapore, a look at the eligibility for most of the car-sharing accounts indicate that drivers need to have at least 12 months’ of driving experience. However, a loophole that is often exploited by users is the fact that most of the car-sharing companies are unable to verify whether it is indeed the registered user who is driving the vehicle during the period of use.
A comment by anonymous user @shiinamachi on r/Singapore claimed that many times, the driver of these car-sharing vehicles may not even be the registered driver. Worse still, they may be underaged and not own a driving license to begin with.
Safety is not the only issue
However, the safety of their vehicles is just the beginning of the challenges these car-sharing companies face. A review of customer feedback on various platforms, such as Google reviews, highlights various additional issues, including poor vehicle cleanliness, inadequate maintenance, and substandard customer service.
The cleanliness of vehicles is a recurrent concern among users of car-sharing services. Cars have been reported to be in poor condition, with issues such as cockroaches, bird droppings, and unclean interiors being commonly cited. These reports indicate that the cleanliness of the vehicles is not up to the standard that customers expect.
ii) Vehicle Maintenance
The maintenance of vehicles is another area of concern for car-sharing users. Some reports from customers indicate that rental cars are in poor working condition, with some issues potentially compromising user safety. This is a serious matter that requires prompt attention from car-sharing companies.
iii) Customer Service
Car-sharing companies heavily rely on technology to provide customer service to their users. However, a common complaint among users is the slow response time of customer service agents, particularly when the user is facing an emergency while using the service. This is an area that requires improvement from car-sharing companies.
Users Are at Fault Too
Car-sharing companies are not solely responsible for a poor user experience, as users also contribute to the issues at hand. Users are expected to follow the terms and conditions set by the companies during their vehicle use. For example, GetGo prohibits smoking in their vehicles and requires pets to be in carriers, while BlueSG does not allow pets in their vehicles at all.
And yet, we still see users clearly violating these terms and conditions, such as this incident where the user placed a dog in the BlueSG vehicle:
On top of that, there also have been instances of users engaging in inappropriate activities (including sexual acts) while in the car-sharing vehicle, once again violating the car-sharing company's terms and conditions.
Do Singaporeans Not Care About Shared Goods?
But could this stem from a larger problem? Could it be that Singaporeans simply don't have the same sense of civic responsibility when it comes to shared goods?
It's worth considering that in a society where private ownership is highly valued, shared resources may not hold the same weight in our minds. After all, if something doesn't belong to us personally, it's easy to rationalize not putting in the extra effort to take care of it.
Some netizens seem to agree with this, going to the extent of highlighting how our mindset and behaviour simply pale in comparison to the Japanese:
Some netizens also blame our sense of pragmatism - there is no incentive for Singaporeans to take care of these car-sharing vehicles when we received them in a poor state to begin with:
Car-sharing is a convenient and cost-effective option for Singaporeans, however, it's important to recognize that it takes a collective effort to make it a positive experience for all. While car-sharing companies do their part by investing resources to maintain their vehicle fleet, it's crucial that Singaporean users also take responsibility for their actions and show consideration for others.
It's easy to overlook the impact of our individual actions when it comes to shared resources, but the reality is that not taking care of a car-sharing vehicle not only affects its next user, but also the company and community as a whole.