The Benefits of Ride-Sharing Apps
Malaysia has been embroiled in a war over ride-sharing apps and the turf they share with existing taxis for a few months now. Taxi drivers are unhappy, going as far as to ‘kidnap’ ride-sharing drivers and protesting in Kuala Lumpur. The government keeps oscillating between banning such apps altogether and regulating them instead. Laws come into play, prominently the lack of existing regulations and the fact that ride-sharing apps constitute a commercial activity that is being conducted via a vehicle whose license, purpose and insurance are geared towards personal use. The public, on the other hand, stands staunchly by ride-sharing apps, and it shows: 71.3% of SPAD’s survey respondents prefer the apps over taxis. What’s so great about these apps?
What is a Ride-Sharing App?
A ride-sharing app, like Uber or GrabCar, is a service matching app that matches the driver with potential passengers. Using the app, you can even track the progress of your ride as you wait for it. Such apps have proliferated in countries all over the world, in somewhat competition with taxi hailing apps such as MyTeksi, now known as Grab. Public opinion of them is largely positive to date.
What is It Good for?
If the ability to track your ride isn’t a big enough boon, ride-sharing apps also offer several great benefits, such as:
An Alternative to Taxis
Are you one of the 86% of SPAD surveyees who pointed out that conventional taxis either over-charge or refuse to use the meter? Then you’re in luck: for now, ride-sharing apps are still going strong, so you can easily get a ride via Uber or GrabCar, and bypass taxis altogether. There are also taxi drivers who tamper with their meters to get them to run faster, drivers who are rude, and so on, traits that don’t endear them to the public, considering the relatively steep price of a taxi in comparison to buses and trains.
Availability Outside Hotspots
SPAD reported having 61,349 taxi permits in the market in October 2013, but the majority of them operate in the hotspot states of Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Johor. Good luck trying to hail a cab from slightly more remote parts of town! And if you’re looking for a cab outside these four states, good luck again trying to catch one of the 116 metered taxis stretched thinly over the remaining 10 Malaysian states. Ride-sharing apps don’t share this limitation. They can be used wherever there are willing drivers and an Internet connection, and in the face of a dearth of taxi drivers in not-so-hot locations, the demand entices supply.
Source of Side Income
Ride-sharing apps, whose drivers are normal Malaysian citizens, present a way to earn a bit of side income while driving around town. You can make yourself available as a driver just as you go out for errands, and earn money bringing people to places where you want to go anyway. There aren’t that many full-time ride-sharing drivers yet, so your ability to make a living out of it full-time isn’t a guarantee just yet.
Ability to Choose
Once you’ve inputted your details, you’ll be presented with a list of drivers near you. Unlike taxi drivers who line up for your patronage, you’re the one who gets to decide whose car you choose to ride in when you use a ride-sharing app vehicle. They’ll still be strangers, but at least you got to test your luck picking out a Uber driver listed in your app, right?
So far, those who torch ride-sharing apps seem to be taxi drivers who are irked that their business is being snatched away. As consumers, you’re now spoilt for choice, what with the advent of apps that further embody the concept of ‘ride-sharing’, such as Tripda, Carpool King, or Tumpang entering the market. Hopefully, all these apps will result in friendly competition that improves our mobility!