Slow start for taxi surge-pricing option, JustGrab

More than 10,600 taxis from five cab companies started offering dynamic pricing using the JustGrab function in the Grab app. Some commuters lauded the service but others were unable to use it.ST VIDEO: OLIVIA CHANG
The newest feature on the Grab platform, allows customers to book taxis from all taxi companies except ComfortDelGro using dynamic pricing.
The newest feature on the Grab platform, allows customers to book taxis from all taxi companies except ComfortDelGro using dynamic pricing.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - The new taxi booking service, JustGrab, was off to a slow start on Wednesday morning.

The newest feature on the Grab platform, which allows customers to book taxis from all taxi companies except ComfortDelGro using dynamic pricing, was absent from the ride-hailing app in the morning.

At 8.30am, a Grab customer service officer told The Straits Times that there was an "app issue" that would be resolved by their technical team. By noon however, the option was available to commuters.

A Grab spokesman, however, said that it found "no app issue or technical glitch" on Wednesday morning, following its investigations.

" JustGrab has been rolled out to all our customers today at 1pm as planned. Customers may have to update their Grab app to the latest version to experience JustGrab," he added.

Taxi commuters whom the Straits Times spoke to had mixed reactions about JustGrab.

Mr Terence Ng, a 29-year-old financial planner saw the JustGrab option but opted for the private-hire carpooling option, GrabShare, as it was cheaper option.

"I think it's quite expected for more taxi fleets to want to adopt surge pricing, but I also feel that they need to keep up by creating new features that offer cheaper options like GrabShare and UberPool," he said.

Stockbroker Annalise Krishnan however found that her usual commute was $3 cheaper from her home in Bishan to Raffles Place.

"I was surprised to see an SMRT cab pick me up because it's usually private cars that come. I think surge pricing is going to become an inevitable part of the industry as consumers enjoy knowing the price of their ride upfront," said the 44-year-old who usually books a private-hire car under Grab.

Under JustGrab, 10,600 taxis from HDT Singapore Taxi, Premier, Prime, SMRT, and Trans-Cab have joined the GrabCar fleet.

JustGrab is using the same fare structure as the GrabCar private-hire service, which has a base fare of $2.50 and a per kilometre rate of 50 cents - cheaper than metered taxi fares. If the customer agrees to the upfront price, the nearest taxi or private-hire car will be dispatched. Just like GrabCar, the price will depend on demand - the higher it is, the more passengers pay, although there is a cap of $100.

ComfortDelGro, which accounts for 60 per cent of the cab market share, has said it will not implement dynamic pricing for now. But it will "introduce a flat fare structure which will be similar to our taxi metered fares for trips booked via our mobile applications".