Grab has launched a new service, GrabShuttle Plus, which allows commuters to book on-demand bus services. Starting 8 November, commuters in Punggol will be able to board a customized bus route within 5-10 minutes of booking.
This follows Land Transport Authority’s announcement in August 2017 that it intends to develop on-demand, dynamically-routed public bus services during off-peak periods in areas with low ridership. LTA called a tender on 15 August 2017 to seek proposals from the industry, which Grab has participated in as well.
Grab has taken a step forward by investing and pushing out on-demand trials in Punggol. GrabShuttle Plus is powered by RideCo, a cloud logistics platform that caters to on-demand services, shared rides and dynamic routing. Users simply need to key in their pick-up and drop-off points, and the app will provide the user with a list of bus trip timings, customized to the nearest available bus stops.
Apart from picking up and dropping off at normal bus stops in Punggol, the app has also catered to less developed parts of Punggol where bus services are not available. The additional bus stops include
- St Francis Xavier Major Seminary gate, Ponggol Seventeenth Avenue
- Marina Country Club Driveway
- PPT Lodge 1B gate
Rides cost $1.20 each, but new users can get 4 free rides by using the promo code SHUTTLEPLUS.
A game changer?
GrabShuttle Plus appears set to be a game changer for Singapore’s transport industry, akin to Ofo and OBike’s pursuit of dockless bicycle-sharing.
In July 2016, LTA called a tender for a bicycle-sharing system in the Jurong Lake district. However, private dockless bicycle-sharing companies, such as Ofo, Obike and Mobike, entered the Singapore scene, creating their ubiquitous presence on the streets. These private companies kickstarted the bicycle-sharing scene in Singapore, and their successes led LTA to cancel the tender.
Similarly, GrabShuttle Plus has kickstarted on-demand bus services in Singapore, prior to LTA awarding any contract. The app has great potential for growth and widespread implementation if the idea catches on with commuters.
However, operation costs stand in the way of on-demand bus services, as compared to a bicycle-sharing. Drivers and vehicles must be readily available for hire, which will inflict large costs on the operator. Comparatively, bicycle-sharing companies do not incur such operation costs.
Only time will tell if GrabShuttle Plus will achieve successes reached by dockless bicycle-sharing companies.