New carpooling service Uber Commute starts today
From today, commuters have another carpooling option to and from their workplace.
Called Uber Commute, the service matches non-professional drivers with passengers on the ride-hailing firm's app. Riders pay a small fee for drivers to recoup the cost of the trip, such as for petrol and parking.
It will cost riders up to about half of an equivalent trip on UberX. Drivers are also only allowed to pick up one passenger.
The first trips were made today. Unlike similar services GrabHitch and Ryde, Uber Commute rides can only be taken from 5am to 10pm on weekdays.
Uber Singapore general manager Warren Tseng said the timing is kept within typical commuting hours as Uber Commute is designed for people who are travelling to and from work.
He said the company aims to improve the experience of peak-hour travel and help Singapore move towards a car-lite future.
He noted that three out of five cars only have one occupant during peak hours.
Said Mr Tseng: "Not everything we do is about driving a profit or financial gain... There are millions of people that are touching our platforms every single week. We have the responsibility to give riders more choices ."
Only non-professional drivers can sign up with Uber Commute.
They are allowed to make only two trips a day under existing carpooling regulations under the Road Traffic Act.
Drivers can keep the entire fare to cover the cost of the trip.
Transport economist Walter Theseira from the Singapore University of Social Sciences said the supply of drivers would be key to whether the service would be successful.
He said: "Many people that drive in Singapore are those with a fairly high income, or place a high value on time, so the real question is whether many drivers are willing to compromise to make a few dollars.
"The supply might affect demand for carpooling because if there are not enough drivers on the platform, riders might lose interest after a while because they can't get their matches."
Business analyst Ivan Lee, 26, takes GrabHitch twice a week and pays about $12 from Jurong to Serangoon each trip.
"I sometimes use GrabHitch as a cheaper alternative to an on-demand taxi service.
"Uber entering this niche can only make prices more competitive," he said.