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GrabBike prepares to deploy 15,000 riders

Grab Philippines wants to have 15,000 bike riders on the road under its motorcycle-taxi service, a move which will expand the reach of the ride hailing giant in congested urban cities.

Grab Philippines is already preparing to revive GrabBike, a service the government had stopped nearly four years ago since there were no guidelines then. Lawmakers have yet to pass a bill that would legalize motorcycle-taxis, while regulators still needed to conclude a pilot test that would determine if motorbikes were safe for public transport.

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But with perception over motorcycle-taxis changing over the last few years due to public outcry over unreliable mass transport and road bottlenecks, Grab said it was ready to provide solutions.

“We’re getting ready on our end in case it opens up. We’re setting up our training facilities, the design of the jackets and materials that are needed, training the trainers, but we haven’t trained the drivers yet,” said Grab Philippines country head Brian Cu.

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Cu told reporters last week on the sidelines of the launch of GrabKitchen that the firm was willing to invest and train drivers, but they needed certainty on the fate of motorbikes.

He said Grab intended to maximize the 15,000-rider cap set by the government. To do so, he said the firm would allow its current fleet of bikers, or the 20,000 GrabFood partners, to also use GrabBike.

Demand for GrabFood usually has a down time at certain points of the day, usually after lunch. The rider can then opt to switch to providing GrabBike services.

Asked why the ride hailing giant would still venture into motorcycle-taxis, he said it was a “natural fit” for a firm operating in congested urban areas like Metro Manila. GrabBike is also present in other countries, such as Vietnam.

If plans fall into place, the move will allow Grab Philippines to further expand its presence in the life of the commuting public, even at a time when the ride hailing giant has been flagged by regulators for alleged privacy and competition violations.

For now, Cu does not consider motorcycle-taxis, such as Angkas or JoyRide, competitors of Grab’s four-wheeled ride hailing services.

“I think it serves a different market. So if you’re saying we’re competing with Angkas, or JoyRide, or with motorcycle taxis, it’s as if you’re saying we’re competing with the UV express, with the jeeps, with the trains,” he said. INQ

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