Since late March, when UBER decided to raise the white flag, we all have experienced how hard it is to get a ride via GRAB – the remaining ride-hailing TNVS option here in the Philippines.

Well just last night in Makati, it took me almost 2 hours before I finally was able to find an available public utility vehicle that will take me home. I walked all the way to Ayala avenue from Glorietta to wait for a jeepney that will take me as far as Zapote and then took another jeepney bound for Herran to go home to Paco. And that was after trying my luck with a GRAB ride, a taxi and different Manila-bound jeepney terminals near the area.

I know, Makati has always been like that since forever, but before April, it was a little bit more easier to get a ride because of the TNVS option – let’s say by 50% easier – but this has nothing to do with Uber as being the better TNVS option. It’s all in the math!

When Uber stopped operation last March, GRAB took the burden of servicing all the Metro Manila passengers. Both Uber and Grab were sharing a growing number of around 600,000 bookings per day with only around 43,000 available vehicles.

When the acquisition began in April, it was assumed that it’ll only be a quick transition period since Uber vehicles (around 19,000) will just get on board with GRAB and everything will be smooth as silk – or as if nothing has changed.

But according to GRAB, the number of vehicles has decreased from the expected 43,000 to just 35,000 – this means that after the acquisition there are 8,000 less cars every day to meet the Metro Manila riders needs. Out of the original 19,000 Uber vehicles only 11,000 has been acquired by GRAB.

“Since March 26, we have done our best to transition all Uber drivers to the Grab platform through a variety of channels such as an on-ground sign-up event, email and SMS, and social media. However, we are unable to complete this transition with more than 6,000 cars missing from the LTFRB audited masterlist of TNVS drivers. As per regulation, we cannot onboard them unless they are on this list. The remaining 2,000 have decided not to move to our platform.” – GRAB said in a public statement, to explain the shortages.

Let’s equate. A growing number of passengers (DEMAND) unmatched with a diminishing number of vehicles (SUPPLY) – this is a potential recipe for disaster. It is not because GRAB drivers have become choosy, but it’s primarily because there are no available vehicles to accommodate passengers.

This will also explain the increase in surges (ride fares are much higher than usual) since computations are based on supply vs demand.

The only way really is to increase the SUPPLY, that’s the perennial problem by the way and the main reason why we have GRAB working in the first place – to help solve our public transportation issues.

So, the problem is not merely because GRAB is incompetent or that Uber is the better TNVS – nothing is as simple as just what our emotions tells us right now – if we do the math, there’s really more to it than just that.

In the meantime, GRAB also announced that their priority right now is to work with regulators to onboard the 6,000 displaced drivers. They have also promised to regularly release incentives to increase the productivity of the existing drivers by at least 15% per day.

We’re still a long way to having a more convenient and economical way of travelling in and out of Metro Manila so here’s a couple of suggestions to help us get through the day with little stress.

  • BE EARLY. To avoid the hassle and stress of rush hour traffic and give you ample time to get to where you want to go or plan alternative actions, assign at least an hour more to your usual travel time.
  • SHARE A RIDE. Since you’re more than an hour early, why not book a GRAB SHARE, it’s cheaper and it’ll help double the capacity of GRAB vehicles to accommodate more passengers – because as I have explained earlier, we’re a little short on the supply.
  • MULTI-STOPS. Now if you’re traveling with a friend (or an acquaintance, even a complete stranger) but with different destinations, GRABCAR rides can accommodate one additional stop. Again, this will help double the capacity of GRAB vehicles.
  • PLAN B. If all else fails, try other mode of transportation. And since you’re EARLY, you have lots of time to explore other options like MRT, P2P, Regular Buses, PNR, Jeepney, UV Express, Taxi and many others. Most of the time, these public utility vehicles are less convenient but they are however a more cheaper way to travel.

It all boils down to us, becoming a more street smart commuter every day and hoping that issues will be resolved the soonest time possible.

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