There are a number of carpooling services available throughout Asia, two of which are UberPOOL and GrabHitch, services provided by ride-booking platform giants Uber and Grab respectively.
What is UberPOOL?
UberPOOL is one of the services provided by American multinational mobile transportation and ride-booking service company, Uber. Launched in San Francisco in August 2014, UberPOOL is a carpooling service that allows users to share their ride with other Uber users who are headed in the same direction. The cost of the trip will then be split up among the users.
The company claims that UberPOOL riders would be able to save up to 25 percent of their trip cost as compared to taking a ride on Uber’s low-cost private car-hailing service, UberX. Users who are intending to book UberPOOL will also be able to see their fares displayed upfront. UberX users are only able to view an estimate of the lowest fare before they intend to book a trip.
With UberPOOL, the company aims to transform the way people commute where not only does its users save on trip costs, they are also playing an important role in reducing the amount of congestion and pollution in the city.
UberPOOL is currently available in more than 35 cities worldwide. Chendu, China became the first city in Asia to have an UberPOOL service in July 2015. Since then, the service has been rolled to major cities across Asia including Shanghai, Delhi, Bangalore, Jakarta, Manila and more recently, Singapore.
Uber is intending to expand to at least 10 other cities across Asia in the coming few months.
In April 2016, Uber claimed that its UberPOOL service has passed 100 million rides since its launch. The company also said that 20 percent of all its rides globally are currently on its UberPOOL service.
UberPOOL trips in China currently averages around 30 million per month.
Its latest series G funding round which was launched in September 2015 has attracted more than US$5 billion from investors, which include a US$3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in June 2016.
Uber is currently valued at US$62.5 billion.
What is GrabHitch?
GrabHitch is one of the services provided by Southeast Asia’s leading ride-booking platform, Grab. Similar to UberPOOL, GrabHitch allows users to share their rides and split the trip cost with other Grab users who are heading in the same direction. Grab claims that the service is up to 40 percent cheaper than other options such as taxis. Trip cost will be displayed upfront before users book a trip.
Setting itself apart from other ride-sharing services in the market, GrabHitch prides itself in being a social ride-sharing platform where Facebook data such as mutual friends, location and events are used to pair up drivers and riders who share common interests and similar routes.
Safety features are also added into the service such as providing the option to travel with someone of the same gender and live tracking of a user’s ride. Drivers are also required to provide documentation including their driving license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
Users will be able to pre-book the service seven days in advance or up to 15 minutes before the pickup time. All transactions on GrabHitch are paid via Grab’s cashless payment system, GrabPay.
(Note: Under Singapore’s carpooling regulations, payments received by drivers should only cover the expenses incurred during the ride. Carpool drivers are also only able to accept up to two rides per day.)
Grab is currently operating in more than 30 cities across Southeast Asia. The company has also recently partnered with Uber’s three major competitors in the market – Lyft, Didi and Ola, to allow its users who travel overseas to cross-book with these ride-hailing platforms.
GrabHitch is presently only available in Singapore and Malaysia.
Grab is regarded to be the leading ride-hailing and ride-booking service platform in Southeast Asia. It currently has a fleet of more than 200,000 drivers on its network, with more than 11 million mobile app downloads since its launch.
User statistics for Grab or GrabHitch is unknown.
Its latest Series E funding round has raised USD350 million, placing the total amount of funds raised since the company’s launch to USD680 million. Grab’s notable investors include Softbank Capital, Tiger Global Management, GCV Capital and Vertex Venture Holdings.
Grab is currently valued at USD1.6 billion.
Carpooling is still a relatively new concept in Asia. The introduction of UberPOOL and GrabHitch across major Asian cities in recent years is a first step towards transfiguring the way people commute daily. Legal and regulatory challenges however would remain as a major hurdle for ride-booking and ride-sharing platforms to expand further into the market.
For instance, GrabHitch’s expansion into providing cross border services between Singapore and Johor Bahru that launched in 20th June 2016, was changed to a free three-week trial service a day later after warnings from Singapore’s Land Transport Authority that the initial service did not comply with local regulations.