Now, taxis cheaper than Grab?

Grab banks on its reputation as a cheaper alternative to traditional taxis. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: Grab’s attraction as a cheap and efficient way to travel has come into question, as passengers complain that the popular ride-hailing service is now more expensive than the conventional taxis, just three months after it killed off its competitior Uber in a controversial merger in Malaysia.

The complaints appear to be valid. Checks by FMT showed that some trips on taxis were cheaper by half the prices offered by Grab.

A one-way trip that takes about 10 minutes (about 5km) costs about RM7 only using a taxi, compared to Grab’s service which now costs about RM14.

Taxi fares are also cheaper for trips that take about 30 minutes compared to what is offered by Grab over the same duration.

Drivers interviewed by FMT said many customers complained that Grab’s fares were higher nowadays, as the demand for the service was high.

One driver said users were concerned that Grab was charging higher rates than before.

Many blamed it on Grab’s merger with its competitor Uber, saying the monopoly was not good for the public who have largely abandoned traditional taxis due to the convenience and cheaper rates offered by e-hailing services.

Others were also concerned about safety issues.

“They say they are worried about their safety because not all Grab drivers show their details,” said a driver.

Taxi driver Muthu said he was struggling to get customers after Grab and Uber were launched in Malaysia, but said there was an increase in customers this year.

“I think it must be because of the increase in prices for Grab,” he said.

Grab driver Nik Mohamad said the decline could be due to fewer drivers wanting to work for Grab.

“So what Grab did was to allow the drivers to charge at a higher rate to attract them to drive with Grab,” he said.

He also said there was competition from emerging e-hailing services to fill the gap left by Uber.

“If Grab doesn’t do something, they will continue to lose their passenger base,” he said.

In March, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri had said that Grab Malaysia had given an assurance that its takeover of Uber would not affect the company’s fares.

Contacted by FMT, a spokesman for Grab attributed the higher rates to the company’s implementation of dynamic pricing, which sees prices fluctuating according to the demand and supply in high traffic areas during peak hours.

The company said the recent bad weather, as well as the Ramadan and Hari Raya seasons, saw an increase in demand for the service.

“There may have been shortage of cars available in certain areas. We do appreciate our customers for their patience and constant feedback as we continuously look at various options to ensure a balance,” said the spokesman.

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