Grab’s ride-sharing service to be available islandwide from 5pm to 11pm as trial expands

Shared rides now include a cancellation fee and commuters are matched to drivers upfront. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE – From Monday, commuters looking for a cheaper private-hire car ride will be able to use Grab’s ride-sharing service, GrabShare, anywhere around the island from 5pm to 11pm.

The service, which allows multiple passengers headed in the same direction to share a ride for a lower fee, has been available at Changi Airport terminals 2 and 3 between 5pm and midnight since last Thursday, with specific tweaks to ensure drivers do not make unnecessary detours at the airport to pick up customers.

This is the latest expansion of GrabShare, which was relaunched in a small-scale trial in January after its previous iteration was suspended for nearly three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The trial started in selected areas near the city centre and Buona Vista during evening peak hours before expanding to more places, including pick-ups during morning peak hours between 7am and 10am in nine towns in the north, north-east and north-west.

After what Grab said were promising results, the trial was extended until April 30.

To address bugbears that commuters and drivers had with the service before Covid-19 struck, GrabShare was revamped when it was reintroduced.

For instance, shared rides now include a cancellation fee and commuters are matched to drivers upfront.

While fares for GrabShare rides are up to 20 per cent cheaper than those for non-shared rides, Grab previously said data from the trial showed that drivers who completed a full GrabShare ride had better earnings compared with those who logged two regular Grab rides within the same period.

The hope is that the ride-sharing service will help to solve an ongoing supply crunch that has driven up fares and waiting times.

There are currently about 55,000 active private-hire drivers and cabbies in Singapore, compared with 69,000 before Covid-19.

“We want to increase productivity by maximising each ride that you do,” Grab Singapore managing director Yee Wee Tang told drivers at a Chinese New Year event in February.

In response to queries, Grab said surveys it conducted during the GrabShare trial found that a majority of passengers were satisfied with the revamped service, with almost 70 per cent saying that they liked the cheaper fares.

Grab said drivers also liked the improvements to the service, with 74 per cent saying that the earnings they made from a GrabShare ride were worth the additional time taken to pick up passengers from two different locations.

The company said it is improving the GrabShare service as it gathers more feedback from the trial.

For instance, it is testing whether it can reduce the distance that drivers need to travel to pick up passengers sharing a ride, in order to cut down waiting time and the number of cancellations made.

“We are expanding this sharing service to more areas as one of the solutions for the driver shortage situation across Singapore, which is amplified during evening peak hours,” a Grab spokesman said.

“We hope that both passengers and driver-partners will continue to try the service and provide invaluable feedback to us, so that the service will be a more robust one when it is ready for its full launch,” she added.

Mr Joshua Tan, 22, would take GrabShare rides once or twice a month before the pandemic, when he needed to get somewhere quickly but was not willing to pay too much.

The expansion of the revamped GrabShare service is therefore good news for the edutech start-up co-founder.

He said: “I wouldn’t say it will definitely make me use Grab more often, but if I can save a couple more dollars and cents, why not?”

Ms Karen Law, 51, said she will consider using GrabShare only if the fares are substantially cheaper and if she has time to spare.

The senior credit manager recalled how she tried in February to book a GrabShare ride from her office in Raffles Place to her home in Upper Thomson, but could not find a match after a long wait.

“The only reason I called for a ride was that I had tonnes of stuff to carry home from work,” she said. “If I had known that this would happen, I would not have wasted my time.”

Grab last Thursday also rolled out new initiatives to cater to the return of passenger traffic to Changi Airport.

By end-March, travellers will be able to book Grab rides using WhatsApp and WeChat, which Grab said will help those who are here on a short trip or using mobile devices with limited Internet bandwidth.

Grab’s application interface will also be improved, so passengers can better navigate to pick-up points at the airport and more easily select a vehicle option that can accommodate their group size and luggage.

Grab Singapore head of transport Alvin Wee said: “We will keep innovating to meet the evolving needs of our users.”

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