- Service still in beta, feedback welcome, says company
- In talks with SPAD over demands for regulation
SINGAPORE-headquartered ride-hailing startup Grab, formerly known as GrabTaxi and MyTeksi before that, has launched GrabHitch in Malaysia, nearly six months after it introduced the carpooling service in the Lion City.
According to GrabHitch regional head Ngiam Xin Wei, the service is aimed at providing more travelling options.
Drivers with space in their vehicles can pick up passengers who are going the same way to offset the cost of their journey, while “passengers pay only a fraction of the cost compared with other transportation modes,” she said.
Citing AC Nielsen data, she said Malaysia has the third highest car ownership globally – 93% of Malaysian households own at least one car, while 54% have more than one car.
“Therefore, there is a significant pool of vehicles with extra space for more passengers,” she said at the official launch of GrabHitch in Kuala Lumpur earlier today (May 5).
GrabMalaysia country manager Jaygan Fu said the new service targets a different segment of passengers, arguing it would not likely hurt taxi drivers’ income – a sore point in Malaysia, which has seen protests against ride-hailing apps.
“The travel distance under GrabHitch is usually farther [between cities] … as such, it may not be that viable for passengers to travel by taxi on a daily basis.
“So essentially, the passengers we are targeting are those who commute via LRT (light railway transit) or buses,” said Fu.
The service also works very well with long-distance commuting, from Penang to Kuala Lumpur for example.
How it works
GrabHitch, which is still in beta, will be open for drivers to sign up today. Drivers need to download or update their Grab app to the latest version.
Passengers can start scheduling GrabHitch rides from May 15 onwards.
Drivers would need to share their regular driving schedule. They will then get a list of ‘matched passengers’ and can decide which passengers to pick up.
Drivers can also indicate that they only want to travel with someone of the same gender. This same feature is also available to passengers.
Before accepting a passenger, a driver would be able to access this passenger’s Facebook page and see if they have any mutual friends.
As for passengers, they can key in their trip details (pickup and drop-off locations, date and time) with a minimum of a two-hour lead time.
In talks with authorities
Meanwhile, although it has not reached the intensity of Jakarta which has seen violent protests, Malaysian taxi companies and drivers have also been up in arms against ride-hailing apps such as Grab and Uber.
Fu said that Grab is in talks with transport industry regulator and authority the Land Public Transport Commission, known by its Malay-language acronym SPAD, over demands that such apps be regulated.
“We are in constant discussions with SPAD on how we can move forward with this,” he said.
“We will abide by the laws of the land. If they decide on a certain direction, we will definitely need to adhere and give our full cooperation,” he added.
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