Recent reliability issues with the transportation system in Singapore have caused the populace much consternation.
Congested expressways, train breakdowns and difficulties in acquiring taxi are common problems associated with urban living. Nowhere else is this better evidenced than in Singapore’s main commercial area, the Central Business District (CBD).
If you’re looking for an alternative way to get around the city centre and snake your way through the pesky traffic to make your next appointment, consider this new offering from the folks at Lompang. Who knows, on mornings where things don’t seem to be going right, it might just save you from being late for work. The new scheme is operating within the CBD and surrounding areas but expansion plans are afoot if all goes well.
Lompang is a mobile application that was developed by Erfi Azhar, a university student and Aaron Fu, a digital strategist at a banking institution. The name for the app refers to a popular local variation of the Malay word “tumpang”, which means ‘to hitch a ride’.
Taking a page from the popular ride-sharing concept, the app allows you put out a request to motorcyclists registered with Lompang. Based on your GPS-indicated start and end points, you can select from a list of available riders, who will transport you to your destination on their scooter.
Regardless of distance, each ride costs S$5.00. S$4.00 goes to the rider to help offset the petrol costs incurred and the remaining amount is charged as an administrative fee. All transactions are made through PayPal. After an initial purchase of credits worth S$20, passengers can continue to top up their credit in sums of S$10, S$15 or S$20.
However, Lompang is more than just an exercise in practicality. Through the shared rides, there is a belief that meaningful social connections can not only be made but also strengthened over time. This takes Lompang beyond a transactional nature: the idea that friendships can be nurtured in the fast-paced environment like the CBD is pretty neat.
We spoke to Lompang co-founder Aaron Fu, who gave us his insight on his new venture.
What was the inspiration behind Lompang, how did the idea come about?
For us, it’s always been about filling empty seats and connecting like-minded people who just want to help each other out. Inspiration for it really came from standing at a cab stand for almost an hour, watching cars and motorcycles go by with empty seats, we thought to ourselves, “How brilliant would it be if we could just jump onto one of those seats?” and then of course “What’s really stopping us?”.
It was that question that got us set-up with the guiding principles of Lompang: Immediate, Trusted, Fun and Fuss-Free.
Ride-sharing is a rather unique concept, how do you think it can fit in Singapore’s transportation landscape?
We feel that ride-sharing’s a natural fit into any landscape where the cost of ownership of vehicles is beyond the reasonable reach of a large segment of the population. Many of our colleagues regularly share rides to and from work and how many times have you asked your buddy for a lift to that party you were both going to?
But of course, there are only so many people we know going to the same place at the same time. We hope that by smashing through inhibitors we can connect people to go places like never before. One example of which is on-demand immediacy, “I know what I want and I want it now” sums it up, many of my peers have very unpredictable schedules so asking them to plan ahead of time when they’ll be moving from point A to point B is a tough one.
Tell us more about the social aspect of Lompang.
The Lompang community is filled with members from the entire spectrum of the diverse individuals living in this city, but they all have one thing in common, they want to help their fellow island dwellers get around. We think this common thread is a strong one and we want to make it even stronger, by organizing a bunch of parties and activities throughout the year, we want to bring to life our suggestion that “Who knows? The next person you hitch a ride from could be someone you’ve already met!”.
We sometimes joke that it’s part of Lompang’s mission to bring smiles and laughter back into getting around town, a community providing rides where your driver is ‘just like you’, a friend and not someone treating you like ‘just another fare’. It’s that difference between putting up in a sterile chain hotel and warming up in a cosy family-run B&B.
What are the current numbers with regards to signups?
We’re just in the middle of our public beta and are releasing about 30 – 50 accounts every week.
What is the long-term vision for Lompang?
Our tagline’s, “Changing the way Asia gets around, one Lompang at a time”, which I feel embodies how while we do have ambitions to really change how the region thinks about how they get around, we do want to take it one ride at a time.
Lompang is currently available on Apple App Store with plans to release an Android version soon. Currently, only riders with scooters will be utilised but riders with other makes and models of motor vehicles are encouraged to sign up in order to be notified when Lompang expands its list of accepted vehicles. More information and updates for both passengers and riders can be found on Lompang’s website.