New app lets commuters compare rates among ride-hailing providers

Spur lists fare ranges of ComfortDelGro, Grab and Gojek, and aims to include more

A local start-up has rolled out a new app that allows commuters to compare rates among ride-hailing providers.

Started by two young technopreneurs in April, Spur is an aggregate app that lists fare ranges of the three main providers here: ComfortDelGro, Grab and Gojek.

Co-founder and chief executive Mark Lim, 34, said: "Because we are not linked to any company, we are agnostic and honest."

He said Spur was born amid the Covid-19 outbreak, "during a time when we felt we could help commuters save money - $2 to $3 each time can add up to quite a lot".

Checks by The Straits Times last Friday found that a 4.6km trip at 11.30am from the suburbs cost $5 to $7 for Grab, $7.33 to $9.33 for ComfortDelGro, and $7.88 to $9.88 for Gojek.

The same journey on another weekday evening, at around 9pm, revealed the same ranking.

Mr Lim said the app has already picked up signs of "a price war" as well as changes in rates.

For instance, he pointed out that soon after ComfortDelGro reported its first loss last month, its ride-hailing fares rose by 30 per cent.

He noted that most of the app's users had been using Comfort before, but "we see a shift after it upped its prices".

Spur uses the Land Transport Authority's open API - or application programming interface, which allows two applications to talk to each other - as well as the transactions of around 600 end users to come up with its fare ranges.

Mr Lim said that currently, Spur has about 150 active users on a weekday, and "the number is growing".

The aggregate app lets users compare rates (above) among the three main ride-hailing providers here. PHOTOS: DESMOND FOO, GOOGLE MAPS

Co-founder and chief technical officer Timothy Khor, 28, said Spur will be approaching other ride-hailing firms - including SMRT and Tada - to be included in its app.

As for its revenue stream, he said Spur is "exploring referral arrangements" with ride firms. In such arrangements, Spur could target commuter groups who are currently non-users of a certain app and persuade them to use the app.

Mr Lim said: "But even if we have such an arrangement, the app will continue to be independent."

Information technology developer Sean Kwok, 28, said he has been using Spur for a week now, and found it to be "user-friendly, but the user experience can be improved".

"For instance, if you click 'Book', it redirects you to the ride-hailing app. And if you don't have that app, you have to download it," he said.

Recruitment specialist Rachel Lum, 34, has been using Spur for more than a month now, and finds it "very convenient".

"I don't have to go to three apps to compare prices," she said. "It's a one-stop app for me. It's useful."

An aerospace engineer by training, Mr Lim was responsible for Singapore's first 3D printing business, 3D Matters, which he sold in 2018.

He went briefly into the car trade, but left to start Spur with Mr Khor after Covid-19 hit.

Mr Khor built an aggregated tourism app in 2016 that was incubated and accelerated by Spring Singapore and NTUitive, an innovation and enterprise arm of the Nanyang Technological University.

He joined OCBC Bank in 2017 to do data analysis, and left last year.

Both men said they believe commuters should be encouraged to switch ride-hailing platforms if they find a cheaper option.