Grab explores P5 'disinfection fee' when ride-hailing resumes

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 28 2020 02:43 PM

A Grab driver disinfects his car in preparation for the resumption of operations of ride-hailing firms under the general community quarantine. Handout

MANILA - Grab Philippines said Thursday it had not sought a fare increase when operations resume and instead proposed a "disinfection fee" or P5 per ride.

The add-on will cover the cost of sanitizing vehicles to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Grab Philippines country head Brian Cu told reporters.

"We haven't made any request to raise rates, however, we made a request to explore having a disinfection payment fee...The disinfection kits and disinfection measures is an added cost to the drivers," Cu said.

"We made a proposal to LTFRB to raise the per trip cost per fixed amount to help cover these, however, there is no decision yet," he added.

The proposed P5 disinfection fee is unrelated to the per kilometer or per minute fares, he said. Right now the fees are covered by Grab and the drivers. 

Grab expects the pandemic to "hit their [drivers'] income," which could be offset by lower gas prices, Cu said. Commission will also be lowered to 10 percent from 20 percent in the first month of operations to help drivers recover faster, he said.

Select public transport with special permits will be allowed to operate in GCQ areas. Metro Manila is under modified lockdown or modified ECQ until May 31.

In other regions, demand bounced back to around 70 to 80 percent of pre-COVID levels 3 weeks after restrictions were lifted, Cu said. 

Some 20,000 drivers are expected to operate once transport authorities lift restrictions for ride-hailing services, said Grab Philippines transport head Ronald Roda. 

There will be no cash payments allowed when Grab resumes, Cu said.

FOCUS ON SAFETY

The platform will implement "higher hygiene standards" to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers when operations resume, Roda said.

It also launched GrabProtect, which includes subsidized hygiene kits for drivers, online health checks, valid cancellations for passengers without masks and driver safety retraining, he said. 

Only 2 passengers will be allowed per ride, masks are required for both drivers and passengers, cars will be equipped with a barrier, and mandatory disinfection at the end of every trip are some of the safety measures that will be imposed, Grab said.

"The focus is safety, we are leveraging all the tech necessary to make this happen," Roda said.

Drivers who fail to undergo the new safety training are barred from operating, Cu said.

Installation of barriers in GrabCars. Handout

Grab also purchased 5,000 rapid test kits and will cover full financial assistance for medical expenses of drivers who will test positive for COVID-19, Cu said.

The exact date for the resumption of operations will depend on the approval of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Grab said.