Carpooling app Ryde sees ridership spike after announcing entry into private-hire car market

Carpooling app Ryde sees ridership spike after announcing entry into private-hire car market

SINGAPORE: Local carpooling app Ryde has seen a multiple-fold increase in ridership and user downloads since it announced its entry into the private-hire car market two weeks ago, and is on track to launch RydeX by the end of the month.

Its aim is to sign on 5,000 full-time private-hire car drivers to complement its current carpooling and taxi services.

Ryde’s CEO and founder Terence Zou told Channel NewsAsia that the company experienced a 15-fold increase in the number of downloads for the app over the past two weeks.

"The number of carpool transactions have also increased … we experienced a three- to four-fold increase for our carpool services,” said Mr Zou. “(There has also been) a lot of interest from private-hire car drivers; close to 2,500 drivers have signed up to drive on our platform. So we're on track to launch sometime towards the end of the month."

Responding to whether Ryde would present itself as competition to Grab, transport analyst Dr Park Byung Joon said that the size of Ryde’s fleet could not hope to “go head-to-head” with Grab, which he estimated has about 40,000 vehicles, assuming all of Uber’s drivers move over to Grab.

Furthermore, he said, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore is likely to consider the size of players’ market shares rather than the number of market players. 

In the meantime, the competition watchdog’s decision on the Grab-Uber deal remains to be seen.

Uber’s ride-hailing app will remain online for an additional week until Apr 15 to give the Commission additional time for deliberation.

Uber had been set to cease operations in Southeast Asia and move its services to Grab's platform by Apr 8.

Dr Park said it is likely that the merger will go ahead even if the Commission decides Uber should remain in Singapore, as the deal is between Grab and Uber for the entire Southeast Asia market.

“Then the responsibility will remain for Grab to … keep the two companies, two operations separate,” said Dr Park. “So one company’s running it, but you separate the two units, and keep the different price … and contract structures.”

He added that another option might be for Grab to separate the car-rental business from the ride-hailing business.

Source: CNA/zl(aj)