Local transportation start-up Ryde has clarified that it will not tap private-hire drivers and cabbies for new courier service
RydeSend will not use private-hire drivers, cabbies RydeSend will tap private drivers, who may be available in their spare time to deliver items for the app's users. PHOTO: RYDE

Local transportation start-up Ryde has clarified that it will not tap private-hire drivers and cabbies for the new peer-to-peer, on-demand courier service it is launching on Sept 3.

In a statement yesterday, the firm apologised for the confusion it had caused on Wednesday, when it announced the new service RydeSend. It had said it will leverage all 60,000 drivers on its platform to make ad hoc delivery of small items. More than a fifth of Ryde's drivers are private-hire chauffeurs, while the remaining are private drivers who use the app for non-commercial car-pooling.

The announcement of RydeSend was met with a warning from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), which said the service would "contravene the regulations prohibiting public service vehicles such as taxis and private-hire cars from solely conveying goods".

The LTA added that "drivers accepting such jobs may have their vocational licences revoked". Under the law, private-hire cars and taxis are meant to carry passengers for hire and reward, and cannot be used for the conveyance of goods.

In its statement, Ryde said it will not tap private-hire drivers or the 3,000 cabbies it had signed up for RydeSend. Instead, it will tap private drivers, who may be available in their spare time to deliver items for the app's users.

Ryde chief executive and founder Terence Zou said the firm will also sign up motorcycle riders for RydeSend from Sept 3 to expand its network, and he targets to have 20,000 of them on the platform by the fourth quarter of this year.

Associate Professor Lawrence Loh from the National University of Singapore Business School said: "Naturally, the exclusion of private-hire car drivers will affect the attractiveness or even the viability of the business model."

But roping in motorcyclists and mobility device users "may swing the market to their advantage", he added.