Local p2p carpooling start-up Ryde has just rolled out their new private-hire car service RydeX this week (May 2) just less than a month after their initial announcement. With Uber now out of the way (we say goodbye for good on May 7), Grab would now be the dominant player in Singapore; which wouldn’t be advantageous to us, the riders, as we explained before last month.
So last night (May 3), the editors of SG Magazine Dannon Har and myself decided to put Ryde to the test against Grab. We were about to head down to Capitol Theatre for the inaugural Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards ceremony (the results here btw) from our new humble abode in Bedok South. Here’s an honest blow-by-blow account of what went down.
I downloaded the RydeX app on my phone and am greeted with an error right at the start. How frustrating. But once it finally opened, I fiddled with the app. I couldn’t figure out how to add my card to the payment options at first, but after about 30 seconds of going into every option possible, I realized it’s actually pretty simple. Under RydePay (it’s Ryde’s own e-wallet of sorts where you can use your card to top up credits), there’s an option to add a new payment method. /facepalm
Dannon, on the other hand, is just waiting for me to get my shit together.
After scrambling to put together some notes for the event, we finally keyed in the destination address. One thing I noticed immediately about RydeX is how clean the user interface (UI) is—everything is where it needs to be. However, you can’t drop pins on your exact whereabouts like Grab. A quick remedy would be to include a note to the driver. Also interesting is this “Adjust price” feature, but it’s pretty useless since you can only increase the price (who would want to do that, right?)
Speaking of prices, Dannon’s fare on Grab was only $13 whereas mine on RydeX was $18.60. Huge difference, even at peak hour.
Okay, it’s go-time. Both Dannon and I have ordered a ride to Capitol Theatre. Within 20 seconds, Dannon got a driver. But I expected it’d be a while for me to get mine, since RydeX currently only has about 5,000 registered drivers with them. Ryde’s CEO Terrence Zou said they’d only roll out their on-demand service after they hit 10,000 drivers.
Dannon’s driver has arrived, but no change for me. I start wondering whether I’ll actually make it to the awards ceremony. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea…
Someone sends me a message on the RydeX app without even a “hello”. Hoorah! But without providing any other information, the driver, Andrew, only says “10 min”. I grumble, because that brings the waiting time to a total of 16 minutes. So I ask if he’s nearby. No response.
This is bad. Should I just forgo this experiment? I’m going to be late. Maybe he’s just on the road and he’s abiding by rules of not texting and driving. Okay that’s good; I don’t have to hold on for dear life when and if he finally arrives.
“3 min”, the mysterious savior of the day replies. More grumbling ensues.
Andrew calls. On the other end, a comforting voice asks where exactly I am—whether I’m on the same side as the nearby Temasek Junior College or on the side of where the residential blocks are. I struggle to describe, only managing a vague “on the corner of Bedok South Road and Bedok South Avenue 1.”
“I know exactly where you are. See you!” Phew. Bedok is still a confusing place for a Jurong-sider like myself. I’m more familiar with Pasir Ris.
He’s here! The event starts at 7pm, or so says the invitation. “You know how it is with these awards; they’re going to start later,” I thought to myself to calm down. I was about to sit in the front seat when he signaled me to sit at the back. I’ve heard of friends who, on Grab, sit behind, only to get a harsh lashing of words from the driver to move upfront.
I don’t need that kind of drama today. Good thing Andrew didn’t think it was a big deal.
We move off. Throughout the ride, we had a decent conversation about how he felt about Grab and RydeX as a driver. As expected, he went on to complain about the whole cancellation aspect of Grab, and how they can only reject one out of 10 rides; if not they won’t receive some incentive of sorts. Lots of complaining, but he did say one thing that stood out. “Ryde didn’t do enough marketing for themselves. I’ve only joined them as a driver when I found out about it through the news of the Uber-Grab merger.”
Dannon arrives at Capitol Theatre. I’m still cruising along god-knows-where. Okay, it looks like Geylang but I can’t be too sure.
He also goes on to mention that most RydeX drivers own their cars, and that it’s really convenient for the drivers because they can actually choose their passengers at their own time and when it suits them. He also said the only reason he picked me up is because he was heading into town.
I also found out that Ryde only takes a 10 percent cut.
We arrive. All in all, it was pretty a pretty seamless experience. The moment I got off, I get a whole bunch of notifications. Andrew rated me five stars (I was surprised that RydeX allows to see the driver’s rating of you), and for some reason I received some kind of bonus ($2.72) that was credited into my RydePay account. There’s also a prompt to tip the driver: $1, $3, $5 or any other amount. I honestly wanted to tip him $3 for answering some questions, but you can only do so using RydePay (I had $0 credits in it because I’m skeptical like that). And once you miss the opportunity, that’s it.
I hope he doesn’t think I’m a stingy douchebag. But hey, I’ve arrived, my conscience is clear, and as I had thought, there were still people slowly strolling in on the red carpet of the ceremony.