By now, you’d probably have heard of Grab’s latest service, GrabShare. If you haven’t heard, it’s Malaysia’s first on-demand car-pooling service that lets you carpool with a stranger on a similar route, for a lower fare of course. So when they came to us, we were naturally skeptical.
Malaysians sharing a ride…. WITH A STRANGER?! Uh, we already feel awkward enough being in a lift with someone leh…
So together with Grab, we ran the Malaysian Fren-liness Survey 2017 last month to find out just how friendly Malaysians are. (Full results here!) Out of 3,500 respondents, only 36% called themselves ‘unfriendly’ and 22% said they wouldn’t share a ride with a stranger even if it would cost less.
But what we didn’t tell our respondents was that we were gonna catch some of these unfriendly flers to turn them into our ‘Cilikulis’ (CILISOS + kuli) by making them do what they’d probably won’t do: use GrabShare and make conversations with strangers… FOR 2 WEEKS. Mwahahaha!
Needless to say, a lot of people turned us down, but we finally found 4 willing Cilikulis from the Klang Valley (that’s where GrabShare is available for now). Of course they didn’t pay la, Grab sponsored them with 30 x RM30 GrabShare vouchers each.
So what did they have to say about the experience? Is it as painfully awkward as we’d imagine it to be? Well here are 5 lessons we derived from their experience:
1. You get to ride alone most times
Ok it’s pretty well established that being in ANY social situation other than a wedding/party/networking event can be pretty awkward. So can you imagine what it’s like to have to share a space no wider than 4 feet with someone you don’t even know? Plus if got traffic jam then how?
Turns out that most times, our Cilikulis rode alone as though it was a regular Grab ride. But the promise of GrabShare is that you’ll be entitled to a discount of up to 30%, so our kulis still managed to enjoy a discounted ride.
“I took about 10 times in total, but only 3 times there was a passenger sharing with me. But all 10 rides were cheaper than the normal Grab car rides.” – Hwa Joo, 16, student
It could also be because GrabShare is still very new in Malaysia, unlike in Singapore where the service will be entering its fifth month come April 2017. The chances of getting a matched ride could be higher in the coming weeks, as what we’ve noted with our other Cilikuli.
“I took about 8 rides in total for two weekends. The first weekend, I rode on my own. On the second weekend, each ride had a passenger.” – Wanie, 30, in advertising
So… what actually happens when you’re actually with a passenger? Jeng jeng jeng…
2. It always starts off a little bit awkward
So, this is a no brainer but it has to be said la. Do you say hello? Would it be weird if you sat in the front seat instead of sharing the back seat? Would it be rude if you didn’t make small talk? Does it even matter since you’ll never see them again??
“It was very awkward. It always starts awkward. When I was the first passenger, I would usually chat with my driver. But when the second passenger came in, I immediately felt weird.” – Ramanisha, 24, student
But it wasn’t just awkward for our Cilikulis – the same was probably felt by the other passenger.
“It was very awkward! At the end of our ride, the passenger didn’t even bother to say goodbye. He just ran off!” – Hwa Joo
Well actually, you can put all your worries aside, cos…
3. Most passengers end up being on their phones anyway
Although our respondent said that most passengers at least say hello or give a small smile, the rest of the journey is pretty much about phone-fiddling. Yerp. Slightly disappointing if you were looking forward to a happy conversation that would lead you to adding a few new Facebook friends. Sorry bruh, real life doesn’t work that way.
“Before my first ride, I had imagined that there would be some form of conversation between the passenger and myself. But surprisingly, it turned out quite differently. I wasn’t disappointed la, just thought it would be different.
But regardless whether we’re quiet or chatty, it’s better than having passengers that are rude or stinky.” – William, 30, digital manager
And because GrabShare allows you to bring maximum one other passenger with you, there’s a chance that you could be riding with not one but TWO strangers. (Minus the driver of course.)
“There was once when I rode with two African ladies. Nothing eventful happened, it was all ok… They didn’t talk to me, they were just minding their own business and chatting among themselves as they sat at the back and I sat in the front. On the other hand, I was chatting with the driver.” – William
Well it’s not a problem to any of our Cilikulis as all of them seem to be just fine minding their own business. In fact, GrabShare isn’t a social tool anyway… It’s supposed to get you to your destination with lower fares and minimal detours, and in the long run possibly even reducing traffic congestion. Making friends or having a good conversation is just a bonus.
So if you’re not keen on talking, that’s totally fine… Just be courteous, polite, and respectful of other passengers. (And that means showing up on time too! Although the driver will wait a max. of 3 minutes, do respect other passengers and the driver’s time okeh?)
4. But when they do open their mouth, it’s mostly pleasant small-talk
As we mentioned previously, our Cilikulis identified themselves as ‘unfriendly’ so you’d probably guess that they won’t make the first move to talk to a stranger. But surprisingly, some of them actually ended up having friendly conversations and even taking selfies!
“I didn’t talk to some of them because they seemed quite serious and I didn’t dare to take any pictures. But there was one passenger who was very friendly when I went to KLCC last Sunday.
The passenger said hi, asked how’s my day, stuff like that la. I didn’t even feel awkward anymore.
It’s actually quite nice that you get to know new people when you use the service. But it was also memorable because the other passenger is quite good looking la, haha.” – Wanie
But even if you don’t end up talking to your fellow passengers, there’s always the driver you can turn to to avoid the deafening awkward silence. And such was the case for William, who actually ended up have an educational chat with his driver.
“Sometimes you won’t know what you may learn from the driver as well… like studying e-commerce as a subject on its own. You can do that now? I didn’t know that.” – William
As far as a good conversation goes, CILISOS wouldn’t be honest if we didn’t raise an important issue that’s been reported by some of our Cilikulis…
5. It seems a little bit confusing for now
Now if you’re unfamiliar with the GrabShare system, here’s a quick explanation.
Let’s say you’re leaving One Utama PJ and are heading to Mid Valley KL. Along the way, someone wants to go to Pavilion KL, which is after Mid Valley. If the app calculates that dropping you off is the most optimised route, then the driver will drop you off first, then the other guy. The both of you get to enjoy a discounted price.
While 2 of our Cilikulis didn’t have any problems with the system, the other 2 actually did:
“I had to be in the office by 10am, so I requested for my ride before that.
But my driver started my trip before he even reached my house. So he picked another passenger and took a longer route to my house.
Because I couldn’t cancel, I had to find another way to get to the office. ” – Wanie
She adds that the GrabShare driver reached her house by 10.15am, but by then she had already gotten into her office. “He apologised though, because he said that the system is quite confusing and he’s not used to it,” she tells us.
As for William, his driver dropped him off last when the app showed that he should’ve been dropped off first. He was going from Puchong to Salak South at about 2.30pm, but the driver ended up dropping off the other passenger first…. at Jalan Sultan Ismail… almost 10km north from his stop.
“The driver said it was his first time doing GrabShare and he needed to follow by sequence. But it was partly my bad la, I didn’t realise my app said I was supposed to be dropped first. I wasn’t looking at it.
When I told him, we were already at the Maluri roundabout. The guy also didn’t realise and he was very sorry about it. It seems they had no classes to teach them, only had a video tutorial through the app or something like that.” – William
He adds that it was quite jammed, and with all the detouring, he ended up being in the car for about an hour. When we asked Grab about it, they acknowledged that some of their drivers are still unsure about the system despite having had online tutorials and on-ground trainings. But upon getting feedback, they’re actually re-starting their on-ground training again for drivers who need more guidance.
Verdict: Not bad, but can be improved
So what did our ‘unfriendly’ Cilikulis have to say as a whole? Ramanisha and Hwa Joo said that they’d recommend it to their friends and family, but both William and Wanie would wait for the system to improve.
Thankfully, Grab isn’t turning a deaf ear on them or on other users who have voiced out on social media. Being a new system, they tell us that they’re still fine-tuning their algorithm to improve the experiences of their customers.
As for drivers, they’re also gonna start their on-ground driving training again, this Tuesday onwards. “We acknowledge that our routes are not perfect yet. The more rides we do, the more the experience for drivers and passengers will improve,” a Grab representative tells us.
System aside, our Cilikulis added that expectations should be managed before using GrabShare. Since passengers are technically sharing a service, they need to do their part to make it efficient and as pleasant for all parties. That means being on time at the pick-up spot and being polite/courteous to drivers and fellow passengers… even if it means spritzing some deodorant if you’re a bit busuk 😉
But most importantly, detours is part and parcel of ride-sharing, so do plan your trip in advance or choose a different ride option if you’re in a hurry.
“It’s cheap and convenient, but only if you’re not rushing or when you have plenty of time on your hands.” – Ramanisha