Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, or so they say. In that case, fiercely competitive rivals Grab and Uber must really love one another. The two private-hire apps have been trying to one-up each other over the past year.
In late August, Uber revamped its pricing model entirely to mirror Grab’s. As of December, however, they have become almost indistinguishable from each other. Why? Because Grab has just launched GrabShare, a carpooling extension of their GrabCar Economy service. Basically, you get to ride at a discount, and you must be prepared to share your ride with others.
That sounds…. a lot like uberPOOL
Apart from very minor differences, GrabShare and uberPOOL are pretty much the same concept.
When uberPOOL first launched in July this year, it was quite the game-changer – they were by far the cheapest rides available and if all you wanted was to get from Point A to Point B, then you could look forward to significant savings, especially during peak hours and after midnight.
From my own experience, Uber’s rider matching algorithm was usually on point, and most people I shared a ride with were enjoyable company. The inevitable delay in my journey was often no more than 10 to 15 minutes, and it was worth it to enjoy the discounted rate – up to 25% cheaper than uberX. But that was before uberPOOL had competition.
The main benefit that GrabShare has over uberPOOL is that of hindsight. Right off the bat, GrabShare has ensured their ride-sharing policy doesn’t face the same criticism that uberPOOL had.
Exactly how is GrabShare different from uberPOOL?
GrabShare limits the ride-sharing possibilities to only one other rider. That means, even if you’re “unlucky”, you’ll only have to endure one detour to your route.
uberPOOL, on the other hand, could have you enduring two or more detours if they’re all in the same direction as your route. I found this out the hard way one time, when travelling from East to West on the way to work – my driver picked up and dropped off two other riders, one after the other. I ended up reaching my workplace 25 minutes later than I normally would.
Because of this rule, GrabShare doesn’t care if you need one or two seats for your ride – the cost is the same. uberPOOL charges you 10% extra for an extra passenger – since your extra passenger represents an opportunity cost.
The other main difference is that while uberPOOL costs about 20% less than the usual uberX fare, GrabShare is up to 30% less than the usual GrabCar Economy price. That’s definitely a significant discount. But because of how supply and demand affects fare prices for both apps, you should still check whether GrabShare or uberPOOL is cheaper just before you book a ride.
So which app is better for Singaporeans?
As we found out when comparing GrabCar Economy and uberX earlier this year, the truth is that there is no one consistent winner. You should always have both apps available on your phone and check the quoted prices for your journey on both apps before picking one.
That said, there are two observations I’ve had while using both GrabShare and uberPOOL recently.
1. GrabShare is usually cheaper – except during peak hours
In general, I’ve found that GrabShare is significantly cheaper – sometimes even quoting a price that’s half of what the same ride would cost on uberPOOL. This is probably because there are more Grab drivers on the road compared to Uber drivers. Thanks to the demand-supply algorithm that both services use, this results in Grab’s prices being kept low, and that leads to Singaporeans preferring to use Grab.
However, this changes as soon as it nears peak hour, such as between 6pm and 7pm on a work day. Then, while both services are generally expensive, GrabShare tends to cost just a bit more, even though it’s 30% off the normal GrabCar Economy price. Why is this the case? My guess would be that since Singaporeans are used to taking Grab, so at peak hours the demand-supply algorithm sends the prices skyrocketing.
Just remember though, that uberPOOL does charge extra if you’re traveling as a couple. GrabShare currently does not.
2. GrabShare limits how many pick-ups per ride, but don’t expect to ride alone
As we said earlier, GrabShare is trying to one-up uberPOOL by implementing a policy that allows no more than two pick-ups per ride. This means that you won’t be subject to more than one detour on your ride, which can be frustrating for the uberPOOL rider.
That said, an uberPOOL driver told me Uber Singapore has recently limited the number of pick-ups per ride to two, but since I don’t have any confirmation from Uber themselves, I can only stick to the official policy that uberPOOL allows multiple pick-ups in a single ride.
Ironically, in my own personal experience, I have been the sole rider on more uberPOOL rides than GrabShare rides. As always, my guess is, until they tweak the pricing, expect the cheaper GrabShare to be the more popular option. Fortunately, both companies have recently been aggressively giving out promotional codes to ensure that your rides are much cheaper than the competition.
Have you tried GrabShare yet? What do you feel about this latest addition to the private car hire industry?