GrabShare: Getting More than Cheaper Rides

share a ride

Automologist LING tries out Grab's new service and shares a ride with stranger, but gets more than she paid for...

Grab finally launched GrabShare in my neck of the woods, Malaysia, as well as the Philippines, after it first offered the service to Grab riders in Singapore in December. It is basically Grab’s version of UberPool, whereby the app matches two riders who are going the same direction. So, with a short detour and extension of your ride, you enjoy up to 30% savings compared to a conventional Grab ride.

Because I am cheap and resource-sharing is a concept that makes complete sense to me, I thought this was brilliant. To try out the new service, I waited for a day when I had to travel a reasonable distance and didn’t have to rush, an occasion which arose yesterday when I had to travel to Bangsar to meet a friend for brunch. In case the service failed me, that particular friend was one of the most patient ones I have.

My skepticism is evident. I’m a technophile but also a late-adopter, preferring other guinea pigs to test the waters before I dip my haughty toe in. But Grab must have already ironed out the kinks in Singapore; although the GrabShare icon still appears with a Beta tag next to it, I booked my driver within seconds and he arrived within 5 minutes. While waiting, the app notified me that it was looking for another rider; by the time I got into the car, it had already matched one to my route.

We cruised leisurely over to Sunway College to pick up the co-rider, a student who was waiting with what looked like a dismantled art project. The detour and the time it took to load his things in the boot added another 15 minutes to my trip. But after that, we were on our merry way.

The student was a congenial lad. I eavesdropped on their conversation for a while. He called the driver “Abang”, and the driver also referred to the student as “Abang”. I wanted to butt in at this point to tell them: “you can’t both be ‘Abang’s, someone has to be the younger one”, but I kept my trap shut rather than ruin the very amiable atmosphere in the car. It felt like one of those feel-good Merdeka ads, with a representative from each of the three largest ethnic groups in Malaysia travelling together in the same vehicle, and the sunlight casting an Instagram-like glow across the scene.

The attention was directed to me when the student turned around - in the middle of engaging in small talk with the driver, which included enthusing about the scent of the car's air freshener - to ask me my occupation.

“Wow! A writer! Never expected to meet one.”

“Yes, Son. Sometimes, if we behave, they let us out to roam freely, but only if we promise not to bite.”...I thought, but did not say.

I diverted the attention back to the driver, wanting to know if he was a full-time Grab driver. He was not, working only weekends for some extra income. His ‘official’ job was with a logistics company, but the industry was in dire straits, he said. “There are many logistic companies which have closed down. Only the bigger ones remain. Every time the price of petrol goes up, we are affected deeply, and the rumour is that it will go up again next month.”

We arrived at my destination first. As I climbed out, I wished them both good luck – the student, who is about to graduate, for his entire future that lies before him; the driver, for the stability of his income. The journey had cost me 13 ringgit – 18 if I had taken the conventional GrabCar – and had gotten me to my destination safely, albeit later. The ride also came with in-person interactions with my fellow Malaysians, however fleeting.

Oh, in case you are wondering, the air-freshener was Glade. They both agreed that it was better than Ambi Pur.


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