Local start-up hoping to Ryde into void left by Uber
It plans to get 5,000 drivers on board to launch private-hire car service RydeX in 'coming weeks'
Private-hire drivers and commuters may soon have another option besides Grab.
Local carpooling platform Ryde is starting a private-hire car service in hopes of filling the void left by Uber, which is selling its South-east Asian business to Grab.
Ryde Technologies founder and chief executive, Mr Terence Zou, said yesterday that the new service, RydeX, will be launched in a matter of weeks.
"Offering private-hire car services would complete our mobility suite to serve our users better," he added.
"Over the past two years, we have been growing our base of both users and drivers, and RydeX will provide Singaporeans an effective alternative to booking a private-hire car."
The company, which was incorporated in 2014, said in a press release yesterday that it has started accepting sign-ups of drivers via its Ryde app.
Started around three years ago, its carpooling service in Singapore now has a combined fleet of more than 55,000 private car and taxi drivers serving 300,000 passengers a day. It also runs a carpooling service in Hong Kong.
Mr Zou told The New Paper that he aims to get 5,000 drivers on board RydeX, which will be launched "in the coming weeks".
He added that RydeX has been in development for about four months.
Last year, Ryde partnered with ComfortDelGro to allow its customers to hitch rides in taxis.
Other Ryde services include RydeSchool, where children attending the same school can share rides, and RydePet, which matches users with pet-friendly drivers.
To be "competitive", Ryde said it will peg drivers' commission rate at 10 per cent - half of what Grab charges its drivers.
Said the release: "By lowering the driver's commission rate to 10 per cent, the savings will be passed back to commuters in the form of lower fares and to drivers in the form of higher earnings."
When contacted, Singapore University of Social Sciences senior lecturer and transport economist Walter Theseira was sceptical about RydeX's viability.
"Anyone can create an app, but the reality is that the funding and investment needed for such operations is immense," he told TNP. "If it does not have an investor list and funding comparable to Grab and Uber, there is little hope."
In response, Mr Zou said: "We have raised a significant amount to reach this milestone. We will continue to raise more money, as required."
Dr Theseira also questioned the sustainability of RydeX's driver commission rate.
"The standard rate is around 15 per cent to 20 per cent now, and even then we do not know if the current companies were making money," he said.
Mr Zou remains optimistic, stressing that the RydeX model would be "fairer" for drivers.
Meanwhile, a survey of 1,000 Singaporeans aged 15 and above by Blackbox yesterday indicated that 75 per cent feel Grab's acquisition of Uber should be rejected or reviewed.
The Land Transport Authority and Competition Commission of Singapore are looking at how the Grab-Uber merger will affect competition in the sector.