Ride-hailing app Ryde gets LTA's approval to provide third-party taxi booking service

(SCREENCAP: Ryde website)

The ride-hailing app market is set to become more competitive after homegrown app Ryde obtained approval from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to provide third-party taxi booking services.

Ryde said in a statement on Thursday (2 August) that the Class 1 certification for the services will allow it to dynamically fix fares for taxis through its app as it targets to add 7,000 more new taxi drivers to its platform by the fourth quarter.

It expects to roll out the RydeX feature, its private-hire service, to all taxi drivers by September, on top on street hail jobs.

As of 4pm on Thursday, 1,000 taxi drivers have registered under RydeX, said a spokesperson.

The firm is currently seeking approval from the Public Transport Council (PTC) for taxis to accept Ryde’s dynamic fixed fares.

Under RydeX, taxi drivers can accept bookings up to three days in advance with Ryde’s scheduled booking feature. Taxi drivers must pay a 10 per cent service fee for each trip completed and are eligible for all RydeX incentives.

Ryde aims to increase its RydeX driver fleet to over 20,000 – both private-hire and taxi drivers – by the end of the year.

“With the expected increase of 7,000 full-time taxi drivers on the platform, Ryde commuters can expect faster matches and reduced average wait times of 4 minutes – down from 5 minutes at present,” said Ryde.

According to the firm, its ridership has grown 6-fold since the launch of RydeX in May.

“Ryde is open to work with all taxi operators, on a non-exclusive basis, to provide an alternative source of bookings for taxi drivers to increase their earnings,” added the firm. “Ryde is also open to work with taxi operators who plan to enter the private-hire car market.”

“The taxi industry…has evolved from a traditional metered fare structure to a dynamically priced one. This is more efficient as it better incentivises supply to match demand during peak periods as opposed to meter pricing with discrete peak hour surcharges,” said Terence Zou, founder and CEO of Ryde Technologies.

Ryde had previously signed a partnership with ComfortDelGro, allowing users to book both flat fare and metered trips, with bookings routed directly with the taxi operator.

According to an LTA spokesperson, Ryde obtained the Class 1 certificate in July.

“A Class 1 TPB service provider performs taxi booking services via an independent mobile application, as opposed to a Class 2 TPB service provider which does so without one.

“TPB service providers can only offer flat fares or dynamic pricing to taxi drivers if these are endorsed by the partner taxi companies. In the absence of any endorsement, the TPB service provider can only follow the metered fares set by the taxi companies,” said the spokesperson.

Ryde’s announcement comes after rival ride-hailing app Grab said on Thursday that it has raised US$2 billion (S$2.73 billion) from investors to expand its offerings including electronic payments, food delivery, and courier services.

The Singapore-based firm, which bought US giant Uber’s Southeast Asian business this year, ran into regulatory hurdles last month.

The Competition Commission of Singapore said on 5 July that the merger has significantly reduced market competition, according to its provisional findings. CCS called for changes to Grab’s operations in a bid to protect consumer interest, failing which the authority might overturn the deal.

Grab last week disputed the CCS’ findings that the merger had infringed competition rules, but vowed it would continue to cooperate with the watchdog’s ongoing review.

When asked by Yahoo News Singapore about Ryde’s certification, a Grab spokesperson declined to comment.

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