More options for users

The Uber-Grab merger has caused unduly duress (okay exaggeration, but seeing the number of people who depend on Uber for their livelihood…) among its stakeholders this past week.

In case you’re finding it hard to keep up with current developments, we’ll get you up to speed. Grab confirmed that it'll be acquiring Uber's Southeast Asia's operations, giving Uber a 27.5% share in their business. Uber will cease operations on Apr 8, while Uber Eats will run till the end of May, after which their partners will shift to a new platform called GrabFood. Uber staff are now on garden leave and are waiting for a call from Grab, who promised no lay-offs as part of their deal with Uber. Singapore competition watchdog Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has laid out interim measures as investigation is ongoing on possible infringement of the Competition Act.

Phew, that’s pretty much it. Of course, this was met with fears of a price increase when using Grab because, well, if they’re the only ones in the game, everybody’s going to be fighting for a car from the same company which means there’ll be an increase in demand, ergo—let’s say it together—surge pricing. The regular discounts that were often doled out would possibly come to a halt, only because these were just tactics to woo consumers to their side when there was competition. Then again, that’s just a privilege, not a right. And it’s bound to discontinue anyway, with or without the merger, because it doesn't make business sense for Grab.

Change is always scary, especially if you're one of the many loyal users of Uber. If for some reason—perhaps you don't like the UI/UX of Grab, or otherwise—can’t wrap your head around using Grab, there are two new players who are about to enter the market for your ride-hailing and -sharing needs. Enter Ryde—a local startup providing p2p carpooling in Singapore since 2015. Hot on the heels of the Uber-Grab acquisition, they announced that they’ll be launching a new private-hire car service called RydeX, a move they call a “natural extension of its growing business”. It's not currently available on the app, but the startup has stated that they've already begun accepting driver sign-ups right now. We have reached out to their representatives on when it will roll out, but details are still in the works.

And then there’s Go-Jek, the Indonesian ride-hailing app that started out offering rides on motorcycle taxis in 2010. There’s still no clear indication of whether it’ll make its way into Singapore, but there have been speculation of expansion to our sunny island, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. They’ve also had a quiet presence in Singapore since last year in the form of a data science office. However, if they are indeed going to roll out their services to Singapore, they won’t be able to launch their main service here as "motorcycles are not allowed to be used for point-to-point transport services, unlike taxis and private hire cars," according to a statement by the Land Transport Authority last year.

If all else fails, there's the option of going back to buses and the very trusty SMRT.