Saturday, April 15, 2017


As I recently moved house, travelling to work takes significantly longer and I was introduced to an application called Swatmobile.

It says that it is "Cheaper than taxi, faster than bus". Does it really live up to its claim?

1. App

The app is clean, user friendly and intuitive. It is extremely easy to get the app going. The bot will speak to you and you just need to answer accordingly.

Once the application is set up, you are ready to make your bookings. You can prebook your ride up to 1 day advance or up to 30 minutes before departure. Of course, there is a risk that if you don't prebook early, you don't get a slot.

You don't have to remember to pre-book everyday because the app will send you notifications asking you whether you want to pre-book for the next day. They also keep your preferences in mind and give an estimated travel time.

After you request to pre-book, they will let you know later in the day, for example, at around 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. whether you have managed to secure a seat, together with your pickup points and drop off points, and what time your pick up time will be. You can then decide whether to accept or reject the trip.

2. Price 

Prior to 31 March 2017, it was a flat fee of $5. After 31 March 2017, they have launched a distance-based pricing model where rides start as low as $2 to a cap of $7.99. Where I stay, they are charging $6.30, an increase of $1.30 from the previous $5. For those who stay close to their destinations, I guess the distance-based pricing model is an incentive. This $1.30 increase, together with other reasons, as elaborated below caused me to stop using the app. I wouldn't completely rule out using the app though, as it may be useful in days when I just want to sleep through the journey instead of standing in the MRT.

3. Punctuality 

The first time I used the app, I was extremely impressed. I was ready to write a glowing review of the app, but I thought, hey let's try this a few more times to see whether it's really that good. I am glad I did.

The app will let you know the vehicle number and when the vehicle will approximately be reaching. This is of course all good and well because it gives you an idea on when you need to go out. While the van was very punctual the first time I took it, the ETAs subsequently were not very accurate. It caused me to run to the pickup point only to wait there for the next 10 minutes.

4. Time taken 

How this app works is where their algorithm inserts new people along the way without affecting the ETA. So if you look at the estimated time, that should give you a pretty good indication on how long it will take to your destination. The problem is, there were times I reached my destination around 10 minutes than I would otherwise have taken if I had taken public transport.

From where I am to my destination, the fastest way is by expressway. However, their "smart" algorithm suggests that it's better for them to go through the long route so that they can pick up more passengers along the way. So when they say it's "Faster than Bus", it really depends on your luck who else pre-booked.

I had suggested to Swatmobile that they could perhaps indicate in their estimation whether expressways would be taken. Who doesn't like going on expressways- most of the time, that's the fastest way! They didn't reply me, I guess they aren't that keen on feedbacks.

5. Pickup and Drop off points 

Their pickup and drop off points may be at bus stops, taxi stands, lamp posts, petrol kiosks or landmark buildings. However, you will not be required to walk more than 300 metres. However, do note that the pickup and drop off points might differ from what is stated.

The service does not currently cover all areas. You can download the app to see whether your commute locations are within the geofence.

6. Mode of transport 

The vehicle used is a 13-seater Toyato Hiace High Roof vans. The seats are comfortable and there is air-con. Depending on the driver, they may sometimes like to blast music, which caused mild annoyance to me because I wanted to sleep. Another passenger asked the driver to lower the volume and the driver obliged.


All in all, I think it's an app with a lot of potential. But some tweaks can definitely make the service a lot more attractive. 


Post a Comment