Drivers waiting to see what new ride-hailing firms will offer

Drivers gathering yesterday in the carpark of Midview City in Sin Ming, where Grab's driver centre is located. Since last week, Uber drivers have been flocking to sign up with Grab.
Drivers gathering yesterday in the carpark of Midview City in Sin Ming, where Grab's driver centre is located. Since last week, Uber drivers have been flocking to sign up with Grab.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Private-hire car drivers here are taking a wait-and-see approach to the new players expected to enter the market, after the departure of American ride-hailing firm Uber.

Drivers whom The Straits Times spoke to yesterday said they would see what the new players have to offer before signing up.

"For those who are driving for their livelihood, there is no loyalty to any company," said Mr Chase Phang, 40, who runs an online support group of about 300 drivers.

"Drivers will go with whoever pays better."

Agreeing with him, Mr Kurniawan Raymond Massie noted that both Grab, a Singapore-based ride-hailing firm, and Uber offered new drivers promotions such as rental rebates and cash incentives for signing up or completing a certain number of rides.

"It is all about the incentives. When Uber and Grab came, people signed up (as drivers) for the incentives," said the 37-year-old, who has been driving for more than a year.

On March 26, following several months of speculation, Grab announced that it was acquiring its American rival's operations in South-east Asia for an undisclosed amount.

As part of the deal, Uber will take a 27.5 per cent stake in Grab, while Uber's chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab's board.

Following the announcement, local carpooling platform Ryde announced its own plans to introduce a private-hire car service, dubbed RydeX.

 
 

Separately, The Straits Times reported yesterday that Indonesian start-up Go-Jek plans to launch its private-hire car service Go-Car in Singapore, as part of its regional expansion plans.

Since last week, Uber drivers have been flocking to sign up with Grab, ahead of Uber ending its services here on Sunday. Grab has erected a large air-conditioned tent - measuring about 20m by 8m - at the open-air carpark of Midview City in Sin Ming, where its driver centre is located.

Though Grab declined to say how many Uber drivers have signed up so far, there were more than 400 drivers gathered at the premises when The Straits Times visited yesterday.

However, there may yet be a snag in the deal between the two firms. The Competition Commission of Singapore announced last week that it was investigating the merger for possible infringements of the Competition Act, and proposed interim measures to preserve competition.

Malaysia and the Philippines said yesterday that they would also be scrutinising the deal to see whether it would hinder competition in their countries.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2018, with the headline 'Drivers waiting to see what new ride-hailing firms will offer'. Print Edition | Subscribe