[Ok, I’ve finally taken my first Ryde ride today. Scroll to the bottom for my thoughts]
With Uber’s untimely demise and departure from the Singapore market, Grab holds an unhealthy amount of market power. Fortunately, this should only be temporary as Go-Jek is poised to enter the market (some of my friends who worked at Uber have been reached out to by Go-Jek recruiters) and local upstart Ryde looks to expand its operations here.
I used Ryde for the first time today. Or rather, I tried to use Ryde, but for the life of me couldn’t get a match. I can only assume that it’s going to be like this for the first couple of months or so, as Ryde claims to have 5,000 drivers now but wants to triple that figure in the months to come. In any case, just downloading and tinkering with the app was an opportunity to see how Ryde is and isn’t like Uber and Grab.
The Ryde app is available for Android and iPhones. If it’s your first time using Ryde, download it through this link and get $2 of RydePay credit (yeah, it’s a far cry from the days of Uber).
What options does Ryde offer?
Ryde currently offers 5 options, with a further UberXL-esque RydeXL launching on May 24. The app also sells travel and car insurance, which is, well, somewhat unexpected, and also has a “Play” section where you can play a series of games to win RydePay credits.
Most of the mapping is straightforward. RydeEXEC is the equivalent of UberExec or GrabCar (Premium). RydePET is the equivalent of UberPET. You can also book Comfort Taxis through the Ryde app as well.
RydePOOL is an interesting one- it’s the equivalent of GrabHitch but with one key difference. There are two sub-flavors of RydePOOL- Per Pax, and Per Trip.
Here’s how Ryde explains the differences between the two:
In case that’s not clear enough, Per Pax is the absolute cheapest option, but it’s only for a maximum of one traveler and you may face detours to pick up other riders. Per Trip is more expensive, but you’ll be sent directly to your destination in shared vehicle. Here’s an example:
- Passenger A calls for a RydePOOL, choosing the Per Pax option going to Destination B. Driver Z takes the booking.
- Passenger C calls for a RydePOOL, choosing the Per Trip option going to Destination D. Driver Z takes the booking.
- Driver Z picks up Passenger C and sends him to Destination D, before resuming with Passenger A’s trip to Destination B
So Passenger A and C can occupy the same vehicle at the same time, but C’s destination supersedes A’s.
RydeX is the equivalent of UberX or GrabCar, or so I thought until I tried to make a booking. I wanted to take a trip from the CBD to Bukit Timah. I tried RydeX, and got a quote of $13.80, which is reasonable-ish, all things considered. Do note that the fare that RydeX quotes is the “minimum” price, and you’re asked to adjust your price upwards to increase your chances of a match. In other words, this is “ownself surge ownself.” This doesn’t mean that Ryde doesn’t have surge pricing either- it does. In a time of surge the base price will go up, but you can further “ownself surge ownself” if you felt so inclined.
Don’t expect cheaper trips if you’re only going a short distance either, because the minimum fare is $8 and it’s a further 60 cents per KM.
Moreover, RydeX currently requires advance bookings and is not on-demand. You book a ride between 10 minutes and seven days in advance, and you wait on average 20 minutes to be matched to a driver. My match never came, but I was only willing to wait about 5-10 minutes anyway. Suffice to say, if you need a ride right this minute, Ryde is not the app for you. What amused me was that while waiting, a notification on the app popped up saying “You might want to take a taxi instead”. I know that Ryde lets you book taxis, but still…
If you have referral credit, one important thing to note is that the payment system does not let you net that credit off from what you pay with your card. In other words, if you have a $10 fare and $2 credit, you can’t use your card to pay $8 and have credit cover the rest. Instead, you need to top up your RydePay credit balance to meet your total fare quote. The minimum top up amount is $35, which means I now had a $35 + $2= $37 balance. It’s obvious that the intention of the mechanism is to lock you into the platform for future trips, which I guess makes sense from Ryde’s point of view. I used my DBS WWMC to pay for this, and I’ll report back if it earns 10X (I see no reason why it should not).
I’m going to assume that this aside, every aspect of the RydeX experience will be similar to that of Uber/Grab. You call a vehicle, you show up on time, you get in, you try to avoid any small talk or eye contact with the driver because you’re pathologically shy, you alight and say thank you, and you wonder why your rating keeps going down because no one understands introverts.
You want promos?
Ryde has a section on promo codes, and these mostly require you to use RydePay credits (again locking you into committing future spend with the platform). Since I wasn’t actually able to get a ride, I have no idea if they work but 48% cashback sounds promising, although it’ll have lapsed by the time you read this post. If you’re willing to park $225 with RydePay, you get 7% back on all your rides, and every 2nd Ryde trip gets 5% cashback with RydePay Visa/Master.
Ryde also has tie-ups with a few partners. When I checked the app, two of the four partner promos were for insurance (FWD/Aviva), but DBS was offering $10 cashback for $200 RydePay credits, and Dash was offering a $5 credit when you made your first Dash top up.
I found the Ryde UI to be more finicky than Grab (and I’m already no fan of Grab’s UI; Uber was the king of this), requiring more taps to get the same thing done. I also dislike the idea that you have to “ownself surge ownself” just to have a better chance of getting a trip, because that seems like extortion in a time of peak demand.
It’s a numbers game for Ryde now- get app downloads, get new users, get new drivers, get investors. We typically see the richest promotions during this period, so that’s something to look forward to at least. The fact that Ryde is not fully on-demand like Uber or Grab is a major problem, however, and it means you have to plan your trips around Ryde than vice versa. Hopefully once these quirks are ironed out we’ll see some serious competition for Grab, but my hope is more in Go-Jek than Ryde at this point.
Addendum- post ride thoughts
I managed to take a RydeX today, after waiting about 8 minutes for someone to accept my booking. As expected, the experience was really no different from an UberX or Grab Car. The driver confirmed my location with me, showed up quickly, I got in, I got to my destination safely.
The only sort of awkward thing about Ryde is that you get an alert immediately after the ride ends telling you what rating the driver gave you. With Uber and Grab, you only see your rating in aggregate and don’t see what individual drivers gave. Maybe it’s part of the whole “build a relationship with an individual driver” that Ryde is going for (you can request for specific drivers when you make a booking), but it’s still kind of weird.
Also, Ryde by default rates your drivers with 5* when the rate driver page opens up. That’s unlike Uber or Grab where you have to manually tap your rating. It’s a small but important UX quirk that I thought you might want to be aware of. There’s also a tip option for your driver if you so wish.