Ryde plans to offer dynamic taxi pricing

Ryde founder and CEO Terence Zou says the app's move to offer dynamic pricing for taxis is "more efficient as it better incentivises supply to match demand during peak periods
Ryde founder and CEO Terence Zou says the app's move to offer dynamic pricing for taxis is "more efficient as it better incentivises supply to match demand during peak periods". PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

App to provide taxi fares upfront instead of by meter, hopes to add cabbies to cut RydeX wait times

Commuters who make a booking on the Ryde app can soon get their taxi fares upfront, rather than going by the meter.

These fares will be dynamically priced, meaning they will increase or decrease based on demand.

The firm announced yesterday it had been granted a Class 1 third-party taxi booking service certificate by the Land Transport Authority.

Ryde - which started as a carpooling platform in 2015 - said it intended to bring some 7,000 taxi drivers on board its RydeX ride-hailing service, which also offers private-hire cars.

This would bring the total number of drivers on the service to 20,000, and reduce waiting times for commuters to an average of four minutes, down from five currently, it added.

The firm, which previously partnered taxi giant ComfortDelGro to allow cab bookings through the Ryde app, said it was open to working with all taxi operators on a "non-exclusive" basis.

Ryde's move comes after Grab introduced JustGrab in March last year, which allowed users to book taxis with upfront dynamic pricing.

UberFlash, a service under the short-lived partnership between Uber and ComfortDelGro, also offered dynamic fares for taxis that were booked through the Uber app.

Ryde's chief executive Terence Zou said this move towards dynamic pricing was part of an "unprecedented change" in Singapore's taxi industry.

"(Dynamic pricing) is more efficient as it better incentivises supply to match demand during peak periods as opposed to meter pricing with discrete peak hour surcharges," he added.

A Ryde spokesman said it was currently seeking approval from the Public Transport Council (PTC) for taxis to accept Ryde's dynamic fixed fares, which could take up to 28 days.

She added that the firm expects to roll out the feature to all taxi drivers by next month.

Though taxi fares here were deregulated two decades ago, operators are required to keep the PTC posted of all changes before they are introduced.

Singapore University of Social Sciences economist Walter Theseira said dynamic pricing is efficient in that it rewards cabbies for driving during periods of high demand.

However, he said it is unlikely that the taxi industry will switch over completely to dynamic pricing in the near future.

Said Dr Theseira: "This is not just because of resistance from passengers (who are unwilling to pay higher fares), but also from a fairly large population of older taxi drivers who are still not used to app-based booking services."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2018, with the headline 'Ryde plans to offer dynamic taxi pricing'. Print Edition | Subscribe