SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has granted ride-hailing company Ryde a three-year licence, making it the fifth ride-sharing operator in Singapore.
The LTA said on Thursday (Oct 21) that it had converted Ryde's provisional licences for point-to-point services to a full ride-hail service operator licence as well as a carpool service operator licence.
Ryde joins other operators such as Grab, Gojek, Tada and ComfortDelGro, which were previously awarded the three-year ride-sharing licences. Grab is the only other operator that has the carpooling service licence.
The move reflects how competition in the ride-hailing sector will only keep growing, said experts.
The assistant director of Singapore Polytechnic's School of Business, Amos Tan, said the licensing announcement could increase brand awareness among consumers about Ryde's services in the sector.
"Having multiple operators is good news from the consumer's perspective because it means they have more choices to tap. It addresses consumers' concerns about a monopoly in the market and the possibility of prices increasing," he added.
Associate Professor Walter Theseira from the Singapore University of Social Sciences said: "The Government has indicated that their vision for the industry is to have it be as competitive as possible, meaning that regulators would not be seeking to limit entry or market players as long as they can meet the standard."
Ryde, which began operations in Singapore in 2015, was granted a one-year provisional licence last year to offer ride-hailing and carpool services while improving operational capabilities to meet LTA's regulatory standards for safety and service.
Under new regulations introduced in October last year, ride-hailing or carpooling services operators with 800 or more vehicles on their platforms must be licensed.
Ryde said in September that it has more than 13,000 active drivers on its platform.
Licensees must comply with conditions such as meeting LTA's safety standards and ensuring that partnership arrangements with drivers were not exclusive.
In terms of Ryde's operations, having a provisional or a full licence would not make much difference, said Prof Theseira.
The firm's focus now would be its financial viability.
He said: "What it really comes down to, as it does for all ride-hailing and carpooling operators, is whether they have the financial strength and operational expertise to grow their driver pool and market share.
"A regulated licensee could just as easily exit the market tomorrow if it were to fail to be financially viable."
A spokesman for Ryde said that the company was "continuously looking to develop more features" to better serve users.
Earlier this year, the platform launched a premium service called RydeLuxe, which offers users a chance to ride with professional drivers in vehicles such as the Toyota Alphard and Vellfire.
On Wednesday, it introduced a cancellation and waiting charge to compensate drivers for users who do not show up or arrive late at their pick-up spot.