Grab customers in the metro were surprised on Thursday (January 9, 2019) when GrabBike suddenly appeared as an option on the app when they were booking for a ride. It indicated ‘GrabBike Test’ and was obviously not yet ready to accept any ride booking.
Grab Philippines President Brian Cu was quick to issue an explanation on his social media account. “People have been asking me about when GrabBike will come out again.. Ayan it’s out na! But shempre [sic] no drivers yet because we are waiting to apply for the pilot,” he said.
“We just got a bit excited and started testing the system to make sure it will be safe and convenient for riders and passengers,” Cu continued, revealing that they ‘accidentally turned it on for everyone.’
Cu again emphasized that the service will only ‘go live’ when they obtain proper regulatory approval for the service. As of this writing, the GrabBike Test option is not any more visible in the app.
Possible GrabBike revival
Earlier this week, Grab Philippines said it is ‘seriously considering’ bringing back its own motorbike taxi service amid an ongoing government review through an extended three-month pilot run of the viability of motorcycle ride-hailing service for public transport.
“Grab is seriously considering to reinvest in the motorcycle taxi denomination and re-launch its GrabBike service in the Philippines, with the blessing of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr),” Cu said. Grab also emphasized that it has already prepared its GrabBike revival approach, which can be readily presented to the two government agencies anytime.
GrabBike pioneered the motorcycle ride-hailing operations in the country when it launched in Metro Manila in November 2015. However, the service ‘temporarily suspended operations’ on February 4, 2016 upon the order of LTFRB, which then threatened to also cancel the accreditation of Grab (formerly MYTAXI.PH) to offer transport network vehicle services (TNVS).
Innovative transport solution
Back then, Grab issued a statement about GrabBike’s suspension: “We stand firmly on our belief that we have created an innovative solution to the country’s transportation problem and we are working towards finding a way to continue providing it to the community. We’re hopeful that the authorities will reach a positive decision regarding the possible regulations to the service.”
An Extended Pilot Implementation program for motorcycle taxi services in the country is currently in effect (from December 23, 2019 to March 23, 2020). The three participants in the scheme—Angkas, JoyRide, and Move It—are each allowed to authorize 10,000 bikers to operate in the metro and 3,000 bikers for Cebu City.
Speculations about a possible GrabBike revival in the Philippines also comes a few days after GrabBike launched a six-month pilot program in Malaysia, where it is being evaluated if the motorcycle taxi service will be feasible and culturally fit in the Malaysian context. GrabBike is also operating in other countries in the region—Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand.