New RydeSend service may not take off

With RydeSend, users can send items via Ryde's pool of drivers for delivery to recipients. Charges will be based on Ryde's RydeX private-hire car fares but with an additional surcharge of $6.
With RydeSend, users can send items via Ryde's pool of drivers for delivery to recipients. Charges will be based on Ryde's RydeX private-hire car fares but with an additional surcharge of $6.PHOTO: RYDE

LTA warns Ryde that private-hire drivers are not allowed to do delivery jobs for app users

Local car-pooling and ride-hailing company Ryde has received a warning from the authorities after it said yesterday it will launch an on-demand delivery service.

Ryde wants to start the service RydeSend on Sept 3 and tap its pool of 60,000 drivers to courier small packages and items for its app users. But the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that private-hire drivers are not allowed to do such delivery jobs.

The LTA said that it was not consulted by Ryde before the announcement.

"We have warned Ryde that its proposed RydeSend service would contravene the regulations prohibiting Public Service Vehicles such as taxis and private-hire cars from solely conveying goods. Drivers accepting such jobs may have their vocational licences revoked," an LTA spokesman said, adding that taxis and private-hire cars are meant to carry passengers for hire and reward under the law.

More than one-fifth, or about 12,000, of Ryde's drivers are private-hire chauffeurs who have signed up to ferry passengers under its RydeX service. The rest are private drivers who carpool with other users on a non-commercial basis.

While Ryde's initial statement said its new service will tap both groups of drivers, its chief executive and founder Terence Zou told The Straits Times later that it will "engage with the authorities to see how private-hire drivers can be allowed to do courier jobs".

National Private Hire Vehicles Association's executive adviser Ang Hin Kee said private-hire drivers are discouraged from doing delivery jobs and expressed disappointment that Ryde had wanted to rope in these drivers.

But Mr Ang, who is also executive adviser for the National Taxi Association, reiterated a call he made last year for the LTA to review the current regulations as there is excess capacity during off-peak hours, and cabbies and private-hire drivers could have an extra income source by doing deliveries.

Mr Ang, an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, also warned that private drivers who do courier services without proper insurance may have their coverage voided in an accident.

Asked why Ryde was entering the courier sector, Mr Zou said the firm can tap its pool of drivers, cashless payment system and the live tracking of cars on its app.

RydeSend charges will be based on Ryde's RydeX private-hire car fares but with an additional surcharge of $6.

Like RydeX charges, RydeSend's rates will fluctuate according to demand and cost more during peak periods. From Sept 3, Ryde will also sign up motorcycle riders for RydeSend.

Associate Professor Lawrence Loh of the National University of Singapore Business School said: "We are witnessing a trend where ride-hailing providers are encroaching on related business areas like courier service."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2018, with the headline 'New RydeSend service may not take off'. Print Edition | Subscribe