Some 50,000 to 60,000 to be Uber or Grab Drivers in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur and Peninsular Malaysia taxis have for many years built their reputation as some of the worst drivers in Southeast Asia with thousand of stories telling about bad treatment of their customers, from their refusal of using taximeters to their potential violence and cheating attitude towards clients.

And then came Malaysian based GrabCar and later Uber. They changed the life of taxi users in Malaysia who were quick to adopt the new service. And of course to infuriate traditional taxi drivers who saw the number of customers dropping.

In an online poll past year on taxi services commissioned by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), which was answered by over 46,000 people, a large majority told to favour transport app such as  Uber or GrabCar over traditional taxis. It found that 86.1% of the voters used Uber and GrabCar before, and that 71.3% found these apps more reliable than taxis. About 64.4% felt that Uber and GrabCar were affordable, while 59.5% used these apps over taxis because they were accessible.Looking at respondents’ opinion over traditional taxis, the poll showed that 89.1% of voters were unhappy with drivers overcharging them or not using their taximeter; 71.9% complaint also about taxi driver’s attitude.

However, in parallel, 70.3% were in favour of the Government regulating these apps. Taxi drivers have been vociferous over GrabCar and Uber competition, asking Malaysia’s government to ban them. In response, the government promised to regulate the apps’ services. A bill to regulate ride-hailing services is now due to come to Malaysia’s Parliament by March next year.

Traditional taxis have been protesting sharply against the expansion of ride-hailing apps, turning even violent against them. However, they forget that public’s rejection of taxis comes mostly of their bad behaviour. The SPAD unveiled last August a series of measure to help taxis to sustain competition from GrabCar and Uber, including financial help to acquire new taxis and set up transportation apps.

An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 people in the country are believed to be registered drivers with the app-based ride-hailing services Uber and Grab, it was recently told at Malaysia’s national assembly during a session over taxis. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Wee Ka Siong said only 20% of these drivers are fully active, however, while the rest are part-timers who have permanent jobs.

“Most of the drivers providing Uber and Grab services are concentrated in urban areas such as the Klang Valley and Penang,” declared Mr. Siong, reported Malaysia’s News Agency Bernama.

GrabCar is the top hailing-ride app in six countries in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It serves 32 cities in the six ASEAN countries. In Laos, Kakao Taxi (Originally from South Korea) is number one app for ride-hailing. Uber is however the world’s dominating ride- or taxi-hailing app, being number 1 in 108 countries over 170 according to data released by SimilarWeb in July this year. In Southeast Asia, Uber serves 18 cities.