Can't Book a Grab? It's Going To Get Worse Before it Gets Better

In the meantime, GrabRewards users can book (almost) free jeepney and P2P rides.

If you’re a regular Grab user and it feels like it’s getting more and more difficult to book a ride, you’re not alone. On Friday, December 14, it seemed like social media was exploding with angry and frustrated commuters who said it was taking them longer than usual to get a Grab car to get them to their destination. And those lucky enough to get rides have reported consistently higher rates than normal.

Even officials of the company weren’t spared. During a casual lunch with members of the press, Cindy Toh, Grab Philippines country marketing head, admitted that some of their own team members are finding it harder to book rides on their own platform. 

“Within the first two weeks of December, we have seen an increase in booking requests with an average allocation rate of 45 percent,” she said. “This can get worse during rush hour, Fridays and rainy days like today [December 14].”

Of course, it doesn’t help that it’s also a payday and we’re in the thick of the Christmas rush. It’s a perfect storm, so to speak, and if you rely on ride-hailing services to get around, buckle up (if you can) because it’s only going to get worse as Christmas approaches. 

Still, Grab says it’s working on a few fixes to help ease the burden on Metro Manila’s harried commuters. On December 13, Grab introduced special jeepney and P2P (point-to-point) services that’s (almost) free for those using the app in certain high-demand locations in Metro Manila—Grab says you need at least at least one point in your GrabRewards to be able to use the service. Hitch a ride on any of the P2P buses plying the following routes from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.:

  1. Park Square Makati to Trinoma
  2. SM Megamall to SM North EDSA
  3. McKinley Hill to San Lorenzo Place (Citylink)

For Christmas Express jeepneys, commuters can take the following routes:

  1. Ayala to Market-Market (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
  2. Ayala Loop (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  3. PRC Mantrade to Kayamanan C (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  4. EDSA Crossing to Kalentong, Mandaluyong (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  5. EDSA to Pasig City (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
  6. Guadalupe to Gate 3 (e-jeepneys) (11 a.m. to 11 p.m.) 

Toh also said Grab is keeping its price surge at 1.6x instead of 2x allowed by the the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB). 

In addition, Grab officials said the company is implementing what they call “demand optimization,” where they encourage commuters to book their rides during off-peak hour by offering discount codes that can only be used during hours when demand is not as high.

Finally, the LTFRB also recently announced that they are opening applications for as many as 20,000 new transport network vehicle service (TNVS) drivers starting on Monday, December 17, 2018. The LTFRB itself posted an advisory right outside its office along East Avenue in Quezon City:

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The new TNVS drivers might not make in time to ease the burden during the holiday rush, but hopefully it’s something we can all look forward to when 2019 rolls around.


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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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