Singapore may be a tiny island, but getting from one place to another is often slower than it should be, especially if you live in far flung suburbs like Bukit Panjang and spend more than twice the amount of time commuting than drivers living in the same area.
Which is why we’re thanking our lucky stars that GrabHitch and uberPOOL have entered the market, giving us alternatives to flagging down a taxi. And guess what, at times, they might even be cheaper. So what exactly are GrabHitch and uberPOOL all about?
What’s the same?
At their core, both uberPOOL and GrabHitch offer you the chance to catch a ride home in someone’s car instead of taking a regular uberX ride or booking a cab through GrabTaxi.
Even better, your ride home on uberPOOL costs significantly less than an uberX ride. The same goes for GrabHitch rides when compared to GrabTaxi.
And why do you get to pay less? By sharing your ride with other passengers who are going the same way. This might make your journey take a little longer, since the driver might have to make detours to drop passengers off before you.
There is no 100% guarantee that you’ll be forced to share your ride—if you’re lucky, you might be the only one the driver picks up that day. Even so, you still get to pay lower fares.
While an uberPOOL and GrabHitch ride might feel the same to you, the passenger, there is one fundamental difference between the two services.
uberPOOL cars are driven by commercial drivers no different from your regular uberX driver. The only difference is that when these drivers opt to accept uberPOOL bookings, they get to pick up multiple passengers on one trip. As a result, passengers pay less per trip (even if they’re the only one in the vehicle).
GrabHitch is different in that it’s presented as a car sharing app which is not meant to let drivers earn money, but rather simply defray the cost of petrol since they have to make a longer trip. The incentive is supposed to be the social interaction and getting to know people.
In addition, GrabHitch drivers aren’t allowed to pick up random passengers looking for a ride. Instead, they have to already be going somewhere before they can see if there’s anyone they can pick up along the way. You only get matched up with a driver if the guy is actually heading the same way.
So if you’re going ghost hunting at Lim Chu Kang at 3am on a Tuesday, you’ll probably have better luck on uberPOOL than GrabHitch.
In general, the cheapest fares can be found on GrabHitch. The company claims GrabHitch rides can be 50% cheaper than local taxi fares. In reality, how much you save really depends on the time of day and distance. But you do pay significantly less than you would to take a taxi in most situations. Do note however that the GrabHitch driver is also free to ask you to contribute to other costs like ERP charges.
uberPOOL, on the other hand, markets itself as being about 25% cheaper than uberX. The problem is that uberX itself is often more expensive than taking a taxi. But if you stick with uberPOOL only in situations where uberX costs about the same or less than a taxi would (eg. after midnight) and beware of surge pricing, you can still save quite a bit.
Which is better?
From a price point of view, GrabHitch is going to be cheaper in most situations. However, realistically speaking, for most impromptu rides it’s going to be easier to get an uberPOOL driver to pick you up.
Because GrabHitch drivers aren’t supposed to be doing this for profit and can’t go out of their way to pick passengers up, you may not be able to find a driver if nobody else is taking your route.
In addition, there are a lot more people signed up to be Uber drivers than GrabHitch drivers because, well, at least the former get to turn a profit.
So if you’re looking for a cheap ride, what do you do? If you have the time, always check GrabHitch first and see if anyone’s going your way. If you can schedule your ride in advance (even if it’s just a few hours before), even better.
If you can’t get a GrabHitch ride, that’s when you want to check whether you can get an uberPOOL ride, and see if it’s cheaper than what you would pay for a taxi.
uberPOOL was launched literally days ago, so it might take a couple of weeks for Uber drivers to decide if they want to go the carpooling route. But given Uber’s popularity with aspiring drivers, it’s pretty likely the availability of uberPOOL drivers will rise quite quickly.
Have you ever tried uberPOOL or GrabHitch? Tell us in the comments!
Image Credit: Angel Duong