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Uber marks four years in S'pore with 1m active riders

Team of Uber Singapore, which recently moved into Guoco Tower, grows from three employees in 2013 to over 300
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 05:50

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Aside from drivers (or driver-partners, as Uber calls them), Uber's success in Singapore must be attributed to government stakeholders, as well as Uber riders and its employees, says Mr Tseng.

Singapore

UBER last week celebrated its fourth anniversary in Singapore by announcing a milestone of more than a million active riders.

Warren Tseng, Uber Singapore's general manager, said the number marks 20 per cent of Singapore's population, and is based on private-hire vehicles alone.

"This is quite an achievement considering that there wasn't anything of that sort four years ago," he told The Business Times in a recent interview.

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In 2013, Singapore became the first country in Asia to land Uber's services. Today, the average wait time for a ride here is 3.4 minutes. This is superior to the wait time of 31/2 minutes in San Francisco (Uber's base), but not to that in London (2.3 minutes) and New York City (three minutes).

Mr Tseng said: "We have fundamentally changed the way people get around with the kind of smart innovation that moves Singapore forward. Riders are now accustomed to enjoying safe, reliable and affordable rides at the touch of a button."

However, it could take a while before Uber's flying taxis arrive in the Republic. These small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically, and reportedly operate with zero emissions, will be deployed in Texas and Dubai by 2020, Uber said last month.

When asked if flying taxis by Uber could be a thing in Singapore soon, Mr Tseng said: "We don't have an update beyond what was previously announced globally."

He said, however, to expect more collaborations involving Uber throughout South-east Asia.

This follows Uber Singapore's recent alliance with Lazada and Netflix on LiveUp, a membership programme whose offers include e-commerce promotions on Lazada and Lazada-owned RedMart; a free six-month subscription to Netflix; and discounts on Uber rides.

Some observers compared LiveUp to Amazon Prime, and said it could be a team-up ahead of Amazon's expected entry into Singapore, the market that Amazon is targeting as its first entry point into South-east Asia. Mr Tseng said: "This (LiveUp) is just the beginning."

Meanwhile, even as Uber has evolved its innovations beyond ridesharing to food delivery service UberEats and on-demand car rental service smove, it has not lost sight of its creed: Push a button, get a ride.

Mr Tseng said: "It is all about solving the transportation problem of the city. We start with the city and build products that address the needs of the city."

The top destination among Uber riders in Singapore is found to be Changi Airport. The most number of trips taken by a single rider is 1,400, and the most popular destinations for Singaporeans (based on their usage of Uber overseas) are Malaysia, Australia and the United States.

Just under half (46 per cent) of Uber's "tens of thousands" of drivers drive less than 10 hours per week. The majority are "family-oriented" and "desire a sense of autonomy and control over their lives", Mr Tseng shared.

Aside from drivers (or driver-partners, as Uber calls them), Mr Tseng said that Uber's success in Singapore must be attributed to government stakeholders, as well as Uber riders and its employees.

The Uber Singapore team has grown from three employees in 2013 to over 300 - and recently moved into Uber's newest office at Guoco Tower. The space is said to be able to accommodate about 550 people, and has a pantry that serves lunch daily.

The office has no individual dustbins. Mr Tseng said: "Garbage disposal is located around work areas for easy recycling and to discourage people from producing waste."

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