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A new on demand ride-sharing app, SWAT, just appeared on the Singapore’s radar all thanks to a report on TODAY.

Here’s what we know:

  1. SWAT charges commuters a flat fare of S$5 no matter the distance of their rides. This presents a really attractive option for commuters looking for Uber or Grab alternatives.
  2. There’s a catch of course: rides need to be booked at least 30 minutes in advance or pre-booked the night before by 10pm. Commuters also need to walk a distance (less than 300 meters) to designated waiting areas which could be bus stops, taxi stands and other landmarks. The last catch? They also have to share their rides with others.
  3. Pick ups and drop offs are now only limited to North, Central and South of Singapore. This pretty much covers the main areas of Singapore.
  4. SWAT promises speed of a taxi, price of a bus.
  5. The SWAT service operates in the morning peak hours of between 7am and 10am during weekdays only.
  6. There are currently 15 drivers with SWAT, operating a fleet of 13-seater Toyota Hiace High Roof vans.
  7. Over 1,000 people has downloaded the app.
  8. The app is designed as a chat bot which asks you simple questions to determine your pick up location.
  9. SWAT seems to be available on iOS only for now.

Here’s a look at the app and how it works:

Screenshot from SWAT
Screenshot from SWAT

On their Facebook page, SWAT explains the idea behind the app was when they realised commuters travel in repeatable patterns, many who head to the same places.

This led to the idea of creating a solution that constructs a route where vehicles can pick up multiple commuters going in the same direction without affecting anyone’s arrival time.

According to the report on TODAY, the company behind the app shared that it had analysed commuters’ data to come out with highly optimised vehicle routes and passenger pick up points, hence they are able to offer the service at a more attractive price.

SWAT's consumer travel data/ Image credit: SWAT Facebook
SWAT’s consumer travel data/ Image credit: SWAT Facebook

No Rejections

In an interview with TODAY, founder of SWAT Lin Shijing explains that the one factor that makes them stand out compared to other ride sharing apps is that they don’t reject any requests.

“A distinctive factor is that our drivers do not get to accept or reject a ride. This is a key requirement because the sequence of pick-ups and drop- offs are orchestrated to ensure maximum efficiency,” says Lin.

This plays into SWAT’s hands as during peak hours, this service would be attractive to Singaporean commuters as no one would want to wait for confirmation notifications, or doubt if their rides might get cancelled suddenly.

Payment Via SWAT Credits

Payment for rides are done by SWAT credits which need to be purchased using a credit card. As stated by SWAT in their website, one credit is equivalent to S$1 . Once a ride is completed, credits will be deducted through the customer’s account.

For commuters who need to cancel their rides, credits will not be deducted if done so within a minute of offer. However, if cancellations are made more than a minute later, 2.5 credits will be deducted.

Those who aren’t at the designated pick up point after a minute of the vehicle’s arrival will also have 2.5 credits deducted from their account.

Like a double-edged sword, the credits might be both a good and a bad initiative. It’s good as it encourages commuters to be early and it then lessens waiting time. It also reduces cancellations, which benefits drivers.

However, it might be a little too extreme for some commuters as there will be those who are a little late due to genuine reasons (unwell, something happened at home etc.).

This might in fact deter potential customers away because no one would want to waste S$2.50 just because they are more than a minute late or cancel a trip slightly after a minute. But if you add the S$2.50 and the S$5 flat fee together, it’s ultimately still cheaper than getting a taxi or Uber.

Fare comparisons between taxis or Ubers and SWAT/ Image credit: SWAT Facebook
Fare comparisons between taxis or Ubers and SWAT/ Image credit: SWAT Facebook

Is It Worth The Travel?

SWAT’s flat rate of five dollars is definitely an advantage when compared to other ride apps such as Grab and Uber.

However, the downside is that fact that commuters have to walk to a specific location to get picked up. Hence, in terms of convenience this might not be it. Would it really be worth the effort and time to walk about five or ten minutes to your pick-up point when you can get picked up at your doorstep by paying a few more dollars with an Uber?

For those who are strapped for cash, or would rather not spend so much on rides, it would surely be beneficial. But for others it might be inconvenient.

Though with a fee of only five dollars, it looks like people might just be willing to take a little walk in the morning to save some cash.

We know we would.

So will you download the use the app? Tell us in the comments below!

Download it here: iOS

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