SINGAPORE: Ride-hailing firm Grab has disabled its GrabShare feature between 1am and 5am, after receiving "numerous report(s)" about safety concerns.
GrabShare allows passengers to carpool in a car or taxi with other travellers headed in the same direction for a cheaper ride.
The move to disable the function during that period of time was announced to Grab drivers earlier this month, but passengers said they were not notified of the change.
In an email to drivers last Monday (Jun 4), Grab said: "Dear Partner, to further improve the GrabShare experience and safety for our Partners and passengers, the GrabShare service will not be available from 1am - 4.59am daily.
"This change has been in effect starting today. All other services will remain available at all hours."
"THEY SHOULD BE MORE TRANSPARENT"
Passengers who wrote to Grab's customer service after realising that they were unable to make a booking on GrabShare received an email response saying the service was disabled during those hours "due to safety concern".
The email did not elaborate on what those safety concerns were.
"We seek your kind understanding on this matter as upon receiving numerous report on safety concern both from passenger and driver (sic), we decided to disable the service during the time frame mention (sic) as a safety precaution," the email stated.
Kamal Razaleigh, an executive who previously used GrabShare to travel home after ending his shift at 2am, was among the passengers who wrote to Grab.
He told Channel NewsAsia that it was "unacceptable" that Grab did not inform passengers of this development.
"It's a little disrespectful. I had to find it out from my driver," he said. Mr Kamal typically spends S$13 for his ride home using GrabShare. Now, he forks out up to S$24 for JustGrab or taxi rides.
Another regular Grab user, Ms Nancy Chan, said she found out on Saturday (Jun 9) that the GrabShare service was disabled when she tried to make a booking at 2am.
“I was shocked as there was no proper notification from Grab that they had removed the service until I tried to make the booking. They should be more transparent and make an announcement before they implemented this so that riders can plan better," she said.
Ms Chan added that besides the lack of transparency, she is also concerned about surges in demand and pricing that typically happens just before 1am.
“Prices are bound to surge just before the 1am timing as more people try to book a GrabShare rides right before 1am,” she said.
“I took a ComfortDelgro taxi after 1am from town recently. The price is now lower than Grab."
Grab launched the GrabShare service in December 2016 as more commuters in Singapore were seen to be willing to share rides with strangers, in return for cheaper fares.
The company revealed that GrabShare rides are 30 per cent cheaper than JustGrab rides, but still subject to surge pricing. Furthermore, only two passenger bookings are allowed per trip.
This, coupled with GrabShare’s matching algorithm, minimises long detours for both passengers and drivers, Grab said.
"LESS VALUE FOR MY FUEL": GRAB DRIVER
Some Grab drivers Channel NewsAsia spoke to said disabling the GrabShare feature during the stipulated period has adversely affected their income.
One driver who declined to be named said GrabShare allowed him to earn more from each ride as he would be able ferry more passengers while driving in the same general direction.
"When I work late hours, I like to take advantage of GrabShare at Changi Airport because I can pick up more than one passenger when there's an incoming flight," he said.
"But now I can only take one at a time. It's less value for my fuel," he added.
Another driver, who also wanted to remain anonymous, told Channel NewsAsia that he once earned a total of S$50 from two passengers after picking them up separately via GrabShare at around 3am.
"There is actually quite a lot of business for us at night. Grab has just found another way to reduce our income," said the 28-year-old.
"This is an example of how Grab exerts its monopoly in the ride-sharing market. And we drivers have our hands tied because there's no other viable options to work at," he added.
Channel NewsAsia has contacted Grab for official comment.