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Yule find a Grab more quickly


Talk Box

Amid surge in demand, exec promises better ride supply

THE PROTRACTED holiday season in the Philippines typically see an uptick (make that huge uptick) in vehicle traffic as Christmas draws nearer. More people are out with greater frequency as they rush to meet their shopping and gift requirements (and requests). They are out more times, and longer.

For ride-hailing customers, this time of the year also means longer wait times to book that vehicle — that is, if you get one at all. This is a cyclical phenomenon, said Grab Philippines Chief Operating Officer Ronald Roda in a recent presser, with GrabCar demand expected to shoot up by at least 20% this month, with a high of 45% to 50% on the second and third weeks. Pressed for absolute numbers by “Velocity,” Mr. Roda said the company cannot declare these as a matter of corporate policy.

He, however, admitted that, for good or for bad, Grab will be judged for the way it addresses the expected commuter surge, amid the aforementioned traffic over these crucial two weeks. Its plan, therefore, is to roll out insightful strategies to ensure a “seamless holiday experience for holiday commuters” that will optimize its fleet.

“There is absolutely, no excuse,” Mr. Roda stressed.

Compared to pre-pandemic numbers, current ridership is still lagging behind — owing to the fact that customer needs have evolved. While going to the office was previously ranked first among the reasons to book a Grab, the present situation of increased remote working has seen leisure take its place as the top reason. “We are still about at 85% the pre-pandemic demand,” revealed the executive.

On the plus side, there is more supply of ride-hailing vehicles this year, thanks to the Department of Transportation and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board opening more slots (4,000 in January, 10,300 in April, and 10,200 in August). The present Grab fleet, per Mr. Roda, is 40% more than last year’s number. The total GrabCar supply is comprised of some 30,000 vehicles.

As part of a 10,000-strong tranche, the company held a GrabCar Caravan that has already onboarded around 4,000 drivers.

The other alleviatory efforts are comprised of tech enhancements designed to improve the reliability of the service. One area is the augmentation of an airport-dedicated fleet to meet the increased number of holiday travelers to and from terminals. A separate vertical, Airport to Anywhere, sees a dedicated fleet of cars parked at the airport. Grab is “ramping up” the complement by two times to better and more quickly address the passenger surge. The service features fixed upfront fares and is surge-fee-free. Its fare matrix is similar to the already familiar yellow taxis that wait at terminals.

Another tech solution is called Multi-Type Taxi (MTT) booking, which allows the booking of a ride more quickly. Rather than switching manually through various types of services, MTT users can tick different ride types, and the app will more quickly choose what is available. Mr. Roda explained that MTT can reduce “allocation time by 20% to 30%,” as well as save the user from multiple clicks.

Grab is also employing a carrot-and-stick method to encourage its drivers to more readily accept bookings — even during peak hours. Those with a penchant for logging off or turning off the app will be penalized with a “time out,” locking them out of the app for progressively longer durations if they refuse to accept, or cherry-pick, rides. Meanwhile, those who deign to drive amid more difficult times and at more congested locations can be rewarded with incentives.

“The carrots and sticks are there to assure quality,” stressed Mr. Roda.

Finally, GrabShare has been made to “ferry more passengers per car more than ever” through more efficient matching of people in closer proximity to each other. During this period, it comes with a “match guarantee” fallback to a discounted GrabCar should the app fail to find the commuter a GrabShare match. And the “route is fixed after passengers are matched to a driver,” removing “surprise detours and stops.”“The experience of our passengers, consumers, and partners on Grab is our utmost priority,” Mr. Roda said, maintaining that Grab leverages its data, platform, and technology to understand and foresee the challenges faced by stakeholders. “Every Filipino should be able to partake in the long-lasting holiday festivities with the help and support of Grab’s mobility services.”

Finally, Grab is also bannering its recent acquisition of “homegrown two-wheel ride-hailing company” Move It to even more keenly “help address the demand of holiday commuters for safe, efficient, and honest transportation.”