MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – To address mounting complaints, Grab Philippines said its drivers will no longer see the destination of their passengers before accepting bookings starting Friday, April 27.
Grab said the destination masking will initially be rolled out to 25% of Grab drivers with a historically low acceptance rate.
An auto-accept driver-app feature will also be fully rolled out on Friday, which will automatically assign bookings to drivers. This would allow a more seamless experience of accepting passenger requests, according to Grab.
“We will implement non-showing of passenger information before ride acceptance, as it is a major source of complaints,” Grab Philippines country head Brian Cu said in a statement on Tuesday, April 24.
“For added protection during wee hours of the night, drivers, however, have an option to see passenger destination,” he added.
This decision comes after the Singapore-based ride-hailing firm sought the advice of Transportation Undersecretary Thomas Orbos and Assistant Secretary Mark de Leon. (READ: Indonesia’s Go-Jek eyes Philippine ride-hailing market)
“We want to vastly improve our services hence our consecutive decisions to sanction 500 errant drivers over the week, and now the non-showing of the passenger destination and the auto-accept feature,” Cu said.
Last week, nearly 500 Grab drivers were sanctioned after an internal probe into mounting complaints of canceled ride bookings.
According to Grab, some drivers were suspended for 3 to 5 days. No further details or breakdown of the sanctions were given.
Cu admitted that Grab’s service is currently “not optimal” with fewer drivers on the road.
“Grab is trying its best to keep more drivers on the road to keep up with rider demand and prevent long waits and price surges,” he said.
In a message sent to reporters, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) welcomed Grab’s move to mask passengers’ destinations.
“At least now the riders, hopefully, will have less cancellations. We appreciate the move unilaterally done by Grab, that they didn’t wait for an order from the LTFRB,” said LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lizada in a mix of English and Filipino.
PBA Representative Jericho Nograles, who earlier questioned Grab’s P2-per-minute travel charge, pointed out that the destination masking was long overdue. He said it was stated in a September 2015 order from the LTFRB.
“Salamat, at last, after 2 1/2 years sinunod na ang order ng LTFRB. Sana naman hindi tayo maghintay ng refund [of the travel charge] for another 2 1/2 years,” Nograles told Rappler in a phone interview.
(Thank you, at last, after 2 1/2 years they followed the order of the LTFRB. I hope we don’t wait for a refund of the travel charge for another 2 1/2 years.)
The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), the country’s antitrust watchdog, continues to review the local implications of the Grab-Uber deal. – Rappler.com