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Grab cuts waiting time and cancellation grace period for ride-hailing bookings from 5 to 3 mins

SINGAPORE — Grab Singapore will be cutting its grace waiting period for ride-hailing services from five minutes to three minutes starting in a week’s time, the company announced on Monday (July 11).
The current "waiting fee" that kicks in after the grace period is S$3 per five-minute block.
The current "waiting fee" that kicks in after the grace period is S$3 per five-minute block.
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  • From July 18, Grab users will have to pay an additional fee if they keep their ride-hailing drivers waiting for more than three minutes
  • Passengers currently have to pay a fee of S$3 per five-minute block if they take more than five minutes to board after the driver reaches the pick-up point
  • Grab has also similarly reduced the cancellation period for passengers

SINGAPORE — Grab Singapore will be cutting its grace waiting period for ride-hailing services from five minutes to three minutes starting in a week’s time, the company announced on Monday (July 11).

From July 18 onwards, users will automatically have to pay a S$3 penalty if they keep their assigned driver waiting for more than three minutes, Grab said in a notification sent to its customers and drivers.

In addition, Grab is also reducing its cancellation period from five minutes to three minutes for passengers after they accept a booking. They will continue paying a S$4 cancellation fee.

This will similarly take effect from next Monday.

The reduced waiting time will apply to the JustGrab, GrabCar, GrabCar Plus, GrabCar Premium, GrabPet and GrabFamily services.

In response to TODAY's queries on the rationale for the change in policy, a Grab spokesman said the company felt "it is timely" as "94 per cent of our rides already see passengers at their pick-up points within three minutes of their drivers arriving". 

"As the country re-opens and more passengers book rides, we want to help our driver-partners capture these new demand trends by spending their time on the roads more productively," it said.

"It will also help reduce fuel wastage caused by idling engines, which has become more of a pain point for our driver-partners with the rising cost of fuel." 

The spokesman also said that as part of the change, Grab is refining controls on its backend so that its private-hire drivers can only mark that they have arrived when they are at the pick-up point or very close to it. 

According to its website, the waiting fee policy has been around since December 2016 "to ensure that our driver partners are properly compensated for the additional time spent waiting for passengers that have exceeded their grace waiting period".

Initially, these fees were manually added by Grab drivers when the grace waiting period was exceeded.

Grab said this was "a tedious process" and the firm began automatically calculating and adding these fees to passengers’ fares from January 2020 onwards.

These fees go entirely to the drivers.

Grab's website also explained when it charges passengers a waiting fee but does not charge its drivers for arriving late.

"The estimated time of arrival of the driver is determined based on road conditions at a specific time. However, such conditions may change quickly that cause our drivers to reach you slightly later than the displayed time," it said.

Grab’s main rival, Gojek, does not charge waiting fees but passengers have to pay a S$4 cancellation fee under certain circumstances.

This is if they cancel five minutes after being assigned a ride, cancel as soon as their driver arrives at their pick-up location, or cancel more than five minutes after their driver indicates that he or she has arrived.

Another ride-hailing service, Ryde, charges a S$5.30 cancellation fee if a passenger cancels four minutes after booking a ride.

Drivers can also charge a waiting time fee of S$5.30 if they wait more than four minutes for a passenger to arrive at the pick-up point. 

Screen shots of Grab's messages to commuters (left) and drivers on July 11, 2022, informing them of the changes.

REACTIONS FROM DRIVERS AND COMMUTERS

Grab drivers whom TODAY spoke to welcomed the move. One of them, Mr Alan Chee, 59, said that the reduction in waiting time benefits drivers such as himself.

“They’re trying to get drivers to earn more. It’s not a bad thing but it adds more pressure (for the passengers),” Mr Chee said.

The self-employed man, who drives during peak hours, said he usually refunds the S$3 fee to passengers unless they reject it.

He does not have to often wait for passengers and it usually happens in condominium complexes where the pick-up point may be some distance from the passenger's unit, he added.

Fellow Grab driver Avery Hoo, 41, said he was part of a group of drivers who gave feedback on waiting times. Almost all of them wanted the grace period to be reduced because at least half of their passengers would only arrive after four minutes or more, he added.

"To us, time is money. Grab agrees with this as well."

Ride-hailing user Renee Koh, a teacher, said this will impact her decision to book Grab rides for her mother who has difficulties walking.

Ms Koh typically books a ride for the older woman about once every two weeks.

The 32-year-old added: “I understand why the waiting period is being reduced but I hope drivers can be more understanding. Five minutes of grace period was just nice for us.

“Maybe now, we have to be downstairs at our HDB (Housing and Development Board) flat before we book.”

Mr Mohamed Khairul Ismail, 27, who takes private-hire rides about two to three times a week, said it does not affect him because he usually shows up within three minutes and monitors his Grab application to make sure he gets there on time.

He separately noted that after Covid-19 restrictions largely lifted here, he and most of his friends have found it difficult to get a Grab ride.

"I have been taking public transport more often... maybe now that the grace period is shorter, I'll only take Grab if there's no bus or train running," the university student added.

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