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Ryde decides not to recruit private-hire drivers and cabbies following LTA warning

In a turn of events, Singapore's homegrown mobility app Ryde has declared yesterday (16 August) that it will not take on private-hire vehicle (PHV) drivers and taxi cab drivers for the new RydeSend initiative, following the warning received from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Wednesday.

The company, which has signed up 3,000 taxi drivers but has yet to incorporate them onto the Ryde booking system, will also not use these cabbies for RydeSend.

The firm stated that it will tap private drivers, instead, who may be available in their spare time to deliver items for the app's users.

Ryde's chief executive and founder Terence Zou stated that Ryde aims to expand its peer-to-peer network with motorcyclists, targeting the 140,000 motorcycles in Singapore.

Separately, Ryde has apologised for the "confusion" it had caused as a result of the announcement regarding RydeSend.

Previously, Ryde Technologies has announced its expansion into on-demand, door-to-door courier services through RydeSEND, claiming to be the pioneer ride-hailing app that also offers a peer-to-peer courier service for documents, parcels, flowers or even properly packed meals within 60 minutes, with over 60,000 drivers under its wing.

However, LTA has declared that the launch of RydeSend would "contravene the regulations prohibiting Public Service Vehicles such as taxis and private hire cars from solely conveying goods", and has warned that "drivers accepting such jobs may have their vocational licences revoked".

The authority reasoned that under the law, PHVs and taxis are only meant to transport passengers in need of commuting from one place to another for hire and reward, and that such vehicles are prohibited from being utilised as a means of conveying goods.

"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," said an LTA spokesperson in an interview with The Straits Times.

LTA also noted that Ryde did not consult the authority prior to launching RydeSend.

Ryde has announced that registrations for motorcyclists via the Ryde Driver app will open on the 3rd next month. The company aims to recruit 20,000 motorcyclists for its RydeSend courier service by Q4 2018.

Ryde has also stated that it will recruit private drivers who are able to deliver items for the app's users in their spare time, and will not be assigning taxi cab drivers under the RydeSend feature. Currently, Ryde has 3,000 taxi cab drivers, but has yet to incorporate them into the booking system.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Ryde Technologies' chief executive and founder Terence Zou said that the company will "engage with the authorities to see how private-hire drivers can be allowed to do courier jobs".

Mr Zou also highlighted the synergistic links between Ryde's vast pool of drivers and a cashless payment system coupled with "live" tracking of vehicles through the app as the reason behind venturing into courier services through RydeSend.

Netizens have pointed out the sheer impracticality of Ryde's move to venture into delivery services through RydeSend, and the foreseeable clash with LTA's regulations in the first place.

Tan Khoon Yam said:

I thought LTA did not approve of PHV [private hire vehicles] and taxis doing courier [service]?

Yazid Idah wrote:

Didn't LTA say that PHV drivers are not allowed to do courier work?

HK Cheam commented:

LTA just said “NO” on the news! Jialat.

Ren Yeo said:

It's better to focus on ride hailing and do a difficult job exceedingly well, than to become the jack of every trade, master of nothing.  

Malcom Ong wrote:

So will they be allow to use PHV vehicle to deliver parcel during their free time?

Diana Teo said:

Lol... Only when LTA steps in then you twisted your story...