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Transport companies get high-tech boost from apps

Transport companies are going high tech these days, leveraging the popularity of smartphones to boost their business. For consumers, this means they can hire a limousine or arrange for a van delivery with just a swipe of the fingers.

SINGAPORE: Need a chauffeured vehicle for a special occasion?

Now, customers can hire a Mercedes Benz or a 13-seater minibus like the Toyota Hiace, using a new mobile app launched on Tuesday.

Called GrabCar, the app requires users to enter their pick-up point and destination. The app will then inform the user how much it is likely to cost.

For example, the fee for booking a saloon car starts from S$38 for a distance of less than four kilometres. For a distance of more than four kilometres, the fee is S$50. Between midnight to 6am, there is a S$10 surcharge.

Lim Kell Jay, general manager of GrabTaxi & GrabCar Singapore, said: "There's still the unmet demand for taxis during peak hours or when it rains, so a service like GrabCar would be able to help alleviate and meet some of these demands... And in Singapore, commuters generally are able to afford paying a little bit more for a premium service."

In June, major cities in Europe saw massive protests by taxi drivers against car-sharing services offered by apps such as Uber. They voiced doubts about the reliability of such services and raised concerns about safety.

GrabCar said it has measures in place to address such concerns.

GrabCar works with limousine operators and company owners whose drivers have the relevant commercial driving licence. It has also sought guidance from regulators to ensure the safety of its passengers.

Stringent checks are also a must for the company behind the application, GoGoVan.

Launched in June, the app allows customers to arrange for deliveries via motorcycles, lorries or vans.

Charges start from S$8 for motorcycle delivery, and varies, depending on the vehicle chosen, distance to be covered and weight of the items.

Steven Lam, co-founder of GoGoVan, said: "For all the registered vehicles under the GoGoVan network, they have to come to our office and we have a staff member go down and inspect the vehicle.

"(This is) to make sure that it is the same person that owns the vehicle, drives the vehicle, to ensure quality of service and that nothing goes wrong. If something happens, we can then track down the driver."

Currently, more than 1,500 drivers have registered with the company. 

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