Grab ropes in taxis for ride sharing

While some cabbies have voiced concerns about the lower fares from services such as JustGrab and GrabShare, others have welcomed the new technology.
While some cabbies have voiced concerns about the lower fares from services such as JustGrab and GrabShare, others have welcomed the new technology.ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

GrabShare option includes cabs from May 16, in latest bid to get commuters to share taxis

The latest attempt to get commuters to share cabs is being launched next week.

Grab announced that, from next Tuesday, the GrabShare option, which lets commuters share a private-hire car to cut the price of a trip, will also include taxis. Fares for the service will be up to 30 per cent cheaper than those for Grab's private-hire service, GrabCar.

GrabTaxi Singapore head Melvin Vu said Grab is "excited to bring taxi-sharing back to Singapore".

"Since launching GrabShare in December, we have been studying trip data and refining our matching algorithm to better match passengers with similar routes to the nearest available driver," he said.

A spokesman for the Public Transport Council said the council had reviewed Grab's proposal and had no objections.

In March, the ride-hailing firm introduced JustGrab, tying up with five taxi firms - SMRT, Trans-Cab, Premier, Prime and HDT Singapore Taxi - to bring upfront fares and dynamic pricing to taxis here.

TIME-SAVING

Instead of having to cruise around and look for passengers, they are able to pick up and drop off more people in the same amount of time.

MR ANG HIN KEE, the National Taxi Association's executive adviser, on services such as JustGrab and GrabShare.

This is the latest attempt at getting commuters here to share a taxi.

In 1997, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) launched the Share-a-Cab initiative, which was later discontinued because of the low take-up rate. More recently, the Pair Taxi app was launched here two years ago.

However, the service ceased operation just a month after it was introduced, as the LTA deemed its fare model "did not meet the fare-charging conditions stipulated in the regulatory framework".

The idea of taxi-sharing may have been "kind of new" in the past, said Singapore University of Social Sciences transport researcher Park Byung Joon. However, commuters may now be more willing to share their rides, he said, as they become more familiar with services like GrabShare and UberPool.

National Taxi Association executive adviser Ang Hin Kee said that while some cabbies have voiced concerns about the lower fares from services such as JustGrab and GrabShare, others have welcomed the new technology.

"Instead of having to cruise around and look for passengers, they are able to pick up and drop off more people in the same amount of time," said Mr Ang, who is also an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC.

Last week, The Straits Times reported that ComfortDelGro - the largest taxi operator with about 16,300 cabs - is tying up with carpooling app Ryde to allow commuters to book a taxi through the Ryde app. While Ryde chief executive Terence Zou said a taxi-sharing function could be rolled out in the future, ComfortDelGro denied this, saying it will "not be involved in the carpooling service".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2017, with the headline 'Grab ropes in taxis for ride sharing'. Print Edition | Subscribe