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LTA warns Ryde against using private-hire, taxi drivers to do deliveries without passengers

SINGAPORE — The Land Transport Authority (LTA) issued a warning to ride-hailing firm Ryde on Wednesday (Aug 15), hours after the company announced plans to roll out a peer-to-peer, on-demand courier service on September 3 using its pool of 60,000 private-hire and non-commercial drivers.

RYDE CEO Terence Zou poses for a photo.

RYDE CEO Terence Zou poses for a photo.

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SINGAPORE — The Land Transport Authority (LTA) issued a warning to ride-hailing firm Ryde on Wednesday (Aug 15), hours after the company announced plans to roll out a peer-to-peer, on-demand courier service on September 3 using its pool of 60,000 private-hire and non-commercial drivers.

"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.

Taxis and private-hire cars are meant to carry passengers for hire and reward, and cannot be used for the conveyance of goods, she said.

Ryde did not consult LTA prior to launching this service; any new service will have to comply with LTA's regulations, she added.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Ryde's founder and chief executive Terence Zou said the new service would leverage its 12,000 RydeX private-hire drivers and 48,000 non-commercial RydePool drivers.

Later in the day, he confirmed that the company had been contacted by LTA and would only tap its 48,000 RydePool drivers for deliveries.

Users of Ryde's app are also able to book ComfortDelGro taxis, and Mr Zou told TODAY that he will "turn off" the delivery option for private-hire and taxi drivers to ensure they do not run afoul of the law.

"We'll definitely observe the existing regulations. But our general principle still remains the same, we wish to leverage the entire network," he said. "If we have drivers who wish to do the deliveries, we'll lobby for it and work with the authorities. Our hope is to work with the authorities to see if we can allow private-hire drivers and taxi drivers, down the road, to accept RydeSend jobs."

Mr Ang Hin Kee, executive adviser to the National Taxi Association and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, has also been lobbying for private-hire drivers to be allowed to do deliveries on their behalf, but said companies should play by existing rules.

"(Mr Zou) needs to engage in conversation with LTA, and the associations, to continue the work and requests. (Mr Zou) should not jump the gun and put drivers at risk," said Mr Ang.

The issue of private-hire and taxi drivers doing deliveries surfaced last year, when Amazon Prime engaged ComfortDelGro taxis and Uber drivers to make deliveries. ComfortDelGro confirmed its drivers had taken delivery jobs, but maintained that there was a passenger to accompany the delivery items.

The Straits Times then reported LTA's stance on the matter. At the time, the authority did not spell out the penalties for infringement, or if anyone had been taken to task.

On Wednesday, the LTA again did not say if anyone has been caught for infringing the rules, although stakeholders told TODAY they have heard of the practice anecdotally.

Ms Carolyne Tan, a private-hire driver, said she was not aware of the rule disallowing private-hire cars and taxis to deliver goods without a passenger on board.

The 39-year-old was initially interested in taking on RydeSend courier jobs, but said that she is unlikely to do so now.

"If this is the case, then I would not want to jeopardise my job. I have several licenses, including a bike one, I don't wish to put (those) licenses at risk just to send a parcel," she said.

"I was not aware of such regulations about delivering of goods… They are the 'not-so-common' rules that we drivers might not be aware of. In fact, I have seen private-hire cars, even with the blue labels, do deliveries as well, it is actually quite common."

According to her, some courier companies do not make such regulations clear to drivers.

Mr Zou said the rollout of RydeSend made sense as it would "tap Ryde's existing supply (of cars)" as well as its cashless-payments and vehicle-tracking infrastructure. Drivers can expect to earn about 20 per cent more from taking on additional delivery jobs via RydeSend, he said.

RydeSend's prices will be pegged to the price of a RydeX ride, with an additional S$6 delivery surcharge.

Giving an estimate, the firm said it will cost about S$15.70 to send a package from One Raffles Quay to ION Orchard during off-peak hours.

Parcels must weigh no more than 20kg and be no bigger than 70cm by 50cm by 50cm.


To use the service, users will have to make a booking and key in the type of good they wish to send to recipients. Once the booking is accepted, both the sender and receiver will be able to track the delivery transit in real-time either on the app or on a webpage. This means that the receiver does not need to install the Ryde app on his or her phone.

Besides using cars for the courier service, the firm also plans to rope in 20,000 motorcyclists by the fourth quarter of this year. The price of deliveries by motorcycles is expected to be about 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than using a car service, said Mr Zou.

To sign up for this service, Ryde drivers will have to pay a S$100 refundable deposit via the Ryde Driver app, which will serve as security against any loss or damage to items during delivery.


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