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Business

Grab fails to get government OK for ‘holiday fleet’

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
Grab fails to get government OK for �holiday fleet�
Grab Philippines country head Grace Vera Cruz told reporters that the platform failed to secure regulatory approval to increase its fleet by up to 20,000 drivers for the holiday season.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Expect longer waiting time when booking a trip with ride-hailing giant Grab Philippines after the company was denied its petition to introduce a holiday fleet.

Grab Philippines country head Grace Vera Cruz told reporters that the platform failed to secure regulatory approval to increase its fleet by up to 20,000 drivers for the holiday season.

Cruz said negotiations with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) about the holiday fleet were cut short by the allegations of corruption thrown against the agency.

Grab was meeting with LTFRB chairman Teofilo Guadiz III about the proposal to add between 10,000 and 20,000 drivers to serve the holiday surge. The holiday fleet is intended to be activated for the duration of the fourth quarter, catering to the Christmas demand, particularly in the airports.

However, the negotiations failed to progress as a result of Guadiz’s suspension as LTFRB chief. In October Guadiz was accused by one of his former employees of supervising a bribery scheme within the agency, an allegation that led to the indefinite suspension of Guadiz.

Later on, the accuser recanted his claims of corruption, and the suspension order on Guadiz was lifted, reinstating him as LTFRB head in November.

Nevertheless, those events disrupted talks between Grab and LTFRB for the introduction of a holiday fleet, a proposal that was aimed at preventing a traffic mess during the holidays.

Cruz said Grab is ready to serve the Christmas demand, and that the company is talking to transport officials to come up with traffic solutions.

Recently, Grab has added the ability to book multiple options in its app, providing passengers the flexibility to look for the closest service possible. Further, the company is running on beta mode its carpool-like transport, GrabShare, to offer customers an added mobility choice.

In Cebu, Grab is waiting for government approval of its request to open as many as 6,000 slots for transport network vehicle services (TNVS). Cruz said transport availability in Cebu has to be expanded as the province is regaining its pre-pandemic levels of tourism arrivals.

Looking ahead, Grab plans to pilot another feature that will allow passengers to make advance bookings.

Grab estimates that there are now around 40,000 drivers with TNVS franchises in Metro Manila, but this has yet to return to the pre-pandemic high of at least 60,000 in 2019.

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