Grab Drivers: Should You Consider GoJek, Ryde and Taxi Companies Instead?

grab driver

The private car hire scene has been booming in the recent years, and many locals have taken to driving for income. Depending on how many hours you clock, you can actually earn quite a decent paycheck from being say, a Grab driver in Singapore.

Some do it full-time, while others drive on the side for extra cash – especially those whose full-time jobs have flexible hours or require them to frequently drive around the island, allowing them to pick up riders along the way.

Since Uber’s exit earlier this year, quite a few new players have joined in the ride-hailing scene against Grab. For the consumers, it’s easy to compare the ride-hailing services – just download all the apps and pick the cheapest taxi fare. For drivers, however, it’s not as straightforward.

At the moment, Grab takes the biggest cut from its drivers (20%). However, it also has the biggest user base so drivers are likely to get more jobs on the Grab platform.

Comparing things like the driver prerequisites, sign-up procedures, and rental fees, we’ve done the research to weigh the top options drivers have in Singapore – Grab, Ryde, GoJek and taxi companies.

First, a note about PDVL & TDVL

To drive a private hire vehicle in Singapore, you will need either a Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational Licence (PDVL) or Taxi Driver’s Vocational Licence (TDVL). These are mandatory licenses for commercial drivers in Singapore, and the licences are valid for 3 years.

TDVL has been in existence for a long time. It was conventionally meant for taxi drivers, but if you have a TDVL, you can also drive a private hire car. PDVL was introduced mid last year to address the surge in Grab drivers.

If you’re an existing Grab driver, you should already have either licence. But if you’re looking to switch from a private car hire company to driving a taxi, you will need to get a TDVL.

To get either licence, you need to enroll in a course with Singapore Taxi Academy which offers either a PDVL or TPDVL (a PDVL + TDVL “double degree”).

Vocational Licence PDVL TDVL
What can you drive? Private hire cars Taxis, private hire cars
Who can apply? Singaporean or PR/Foreigner Singaporean only
Driving qualifications Class 3/3A driver’s licence, min. 2 years driving experience Class 3/3A driver’s licence, min. 1 year driving experience
Any other requirements? Employee of chauffeur-service company Min. 30 years old
Course fees $155.15 $294.25 (TDVL + PDVL)
Course duration 10 hours 25 hours

Requirements for Grab, Ryde, GoJek and taxi companies

Requirements Key things to note  
Grab Min. 21 years old, Singaporean or PR. Min. 2 years driving experience. PDVL or TDVL required 20% commission. Can drive with own or rental vehicle (rental fees from $50 per day)
Ryde No stated requirements. Foreigner/work permit holders are allowed. PDVL or TDVL required 10% commission. Must drive your own vehicle
GoJek No official requirements published yet, but recruitment is open.  Interested drivers must register their interest on the GoJek website. They will be given an interview time slot in batches.
Taxi Min. 30 years old, Singaporean only (PR/foreigners not allowed). Min. 1 year driving experience. TDVL required Criminal record considered during application process. Must rent a taxi to drive (rental fees $75 – $105 per day)

Becoming a Grab driver – high commission cut of 20%, but can rent or drive your own car

The sign-up procedure is pretty straightforward, and can mostly be done online, except for the 1-hour mandatory training session. It can also be done at the Grab office.

Documents required for application:

  • NRIC
  • Driving Licence
  • Proof of commercial insurance
  • Z10 / Z11 Vehicle Log (for those using their own cars)
  • Bank Information – Name, Account Number and Branch Code
  • PDVL or TDVL

Grab requires its drivers to be at least 21 years old, and have 2 years of driving experience. Do note that Grab does not allow foreigners, so work permit holders will not be able to apply even if you have successfully obtained your PDVL.

Grab is currently the only company to allow drivers to choose between renting a car and driving their own vehicle.

If you’re renting a car, you can use the GrabRentals platform. There is no minimum driving period, which is why many people apply to be drivers to get a “free car” and drive just enough to cover the rental costs, which start at $50 per day. The rental fees are relatively affordable, and even includes commercial insurance coverage and car servicing.

If you’re driving your own vehicle (must be at least 4-door and 1.5l), you would need to convert your vehicle scheme classification to a private hire car. The classification is  Z10 (for sedan cars) or Z11 (for SUVs and MPVs), and costs $100 to convert on ONE.MOTORING. If you used your car to drive for any other ride-hailing company previously (like Uber), this step should have already been done. You will need to get commercial insurance coverage, and while Grab has partners for it, you are allowed to source for your own.

The bad news is that Grab charges a maximum of 20% commission on your earnings, which is quite high.

Becoming a Ryde driver – low commission cut of 10%, non-Singaporeans welcome

Shortly after Uber’s closure, carpooling app Ryde announced that it’ll be launching a private car hire service in May 2018. The RydeX services got off to a good start with 5,000 drivers within its first week of operations.

To sign up, you just need to download the Ryde app on your smartphone, and submit your documents via the app. There doesn’t seem to be as many requirements for drivers, and you just need the same few documents: A valid PDVL or TDVL, Class 3/3A driving licence, LTA private hire vehicle log, and commercial insurance coverage.

Documents required for application:

  • NRIC
  • Driving Licence
  • Proof of commercial insurance
  • Z10 / Z11 Vehicle Log
  • Letter of Employment (for non-Singaporeans)
  • Bank Information – Name and Account Number
  • PDVL or TDVL

Currently, out of the four, Ryde seems to be the only one that allows non-Singaporeans to apply by uploading your Letter of Employment. So if you’re a work permit holder, Ryde is kind of your only option.

Ryde does not have car rental partners, so you will need to drive your own car. Unlike Grab, however, there are no restrictions on the size of your personal car. That’s good news for those driving 1.0l or 1.2l cars which fail Grab’s requirements.

To lure ex-Uber drivers (and all other drivers, really) to join Ryde’s fleet, Ryde is also keeping their cut to only 10% of the RydeX fares. This is half of what Grab is taking, which makes quite a big difference to the driver’s income.

However, it remains to be seen how much you can actually bring in by driving for Ryde. Since it’s such a new platform, expect the user base to be small, and jobs to be few and far between for now.

Becoming a GoJek driver – only requirement is a PDVL or TDVL, but there is a face-to-face interview

The most recent player to snatch a slice of this pie is GoJek. And because it’s so new, not much is known about the whole sign-up process. All we know is that interested drivers can register interest on the official GoJek website. The registered applicants will be split into batches, and when it’s your turn, you will receive an confirmation SMS with an interview time slot.

Yup, all applications will be reviewed in-person, so no online applications for now. Also, in their FAQ, GoJek states that they “welcome all qualified PDVL/TDVL holders” so there doesn’t seem to be any other restriction on drivers.

Earlier this month, there were some rumours circulating on Facebook, saying that GoJek is currently offering bonus incentives for drivers who sign up ahead of the launch. GoJek has come out to crush the rumours, making clear that there will be no extra incentives whatsoever.

They also released a GoJek driver handbook.

Becoming a taxi driver – stringent requirements, and for pink-NRIC Singaporeans only

The last option is to become a taxi driver.

If you realised that taxi drivers are mostly uncles and aunties, you’re not imagining it. This is likely because the TDVL requirements are a lot stricter, with the minimum age being bumped up to 30 years old. This immediately eliminates the 20+ year old drivers who are typically classified as high-risk drivers. Only pink-NRIC Singaporeans are allowed too, which means PRs and foreigners can’t apply either.

In addition, drivers must read and speak basic English. You need at least a GCE ‘O’ or ‘N’Level pass in English (Grade D7 and above) or a Level 3 pass in English under the Workplace Literacy (WPL) programme.

After that, you’ll need to sign up with any of the 7 taxi operators in Singapore. Costs like taxi rental fees and commission cuts are unique to the operators, and mostly not published online. Nonetheless, I did some digging, and here’s what I could find.

ComfortDelgro & CityCab

The biggest taxi conglomerate here requires you to turn up for an interview at the office (bring your NRIC, TDVL, and driving licence). If you make the grade, you have to attend two courses: Mobile Data Terminal and Basic Service Training.

You’ll be allocated a taxi from their fleet, upon which you need to pay a $32.10 admin fee and put down a $1,000 security deposit (refundable).

SMRT Taxis

Call or visit one of the offices (SMRT Taxis at Woodlands Depot or Driver Career Centre (DCC), The Herencia). Taxi rental is $104 to $137 per day, but other details about costs are not found online.

Trans Cab Services

Just like with ComfortDelGro, you’ll need to go for an interview at the Trans Cab office (bring NRIC, TDVL, and driving licence). Upon taxi allocation, you’ll need to pay a $32.10 admin fee and put down a $1,500 security deposit (refundable).

Premier Taxis

To kick off the process, you have to complete an application form and either mail or drop it off at the office. Wait for their recruitment officer to progress application to next stage.

Prime Car Rental & Taxi Services

No published sign-up process – contact [email protected]

HDT Taxi Singapore

Unlike with the other taxi companies, HDT drivers get a fixed salary (not based on fare earnings). However you need 5 years driving experience to join them. Contact 6715 7868 or [email protected] for more details.

Which company do you think is best to drive for? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.