Grab buys over Uber: What does this mean for passengers?

PHOTO: Reuters

[Update: March 26, 2.37pm]: This article has been updated with a quote from Grab.

Ride-hailing firm Uber has sold its Southeast Asian business to rival Grab, which will integrate Uber's ridesharing and food delivery business in the region into Grab's platform. 

As part of the transaction, Uber would get a 27.5 per cent stake in the combined business. 

But what does this mean for existing Uber passengers? Here's what we know so far:

Uber's ride-hailing service to be consolidated into the Grab app

Grab said that nothing will change in the immediate term and operations will continue as usual, as they work to combine the Uber and Grab platforms. It mentioned that passengers "can expect better service with more drivers and transport options available in one app".

What this means is that Uber passengers will soon have to use the Grab app to hail a ride within Southeast Asia countries, which includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Uber service to be discontinued in Southeast Asia from April 8

Uber services will be available in Southeast Asia for two more weeks until April 8, 2018. This is to facilitate the onboarding of Uber drivers on to the Grab platform.

Grab also told its passengers to download and use the Grab app to book rides for travelling needs in Southeast Asia.

What this means is that Uber will only be available in other regions outside of Southeast Asia.

Fare structure remains unchanged

Grab told AsiaOne that there will be no change to its fare structure following the merger. Fares for GrabCar and JustGrab will continue to be calculated based on a base distance, with a dynamic surcharge considering factors such as demand and supply, traffic conditions, and estimated time taken to complete the journey.

Passengers who choose the taxi options will continue to pay by metered fares that are set by the taxi companies. Fares for other services like GrabHitch or GrabShuttle will remain at the usual fixed amounts.

What happens to your data in Uber?

Account information of Uber users will still be retained. Uber users can still view past trips and ratings in the Uber app. The account will remain active and can be used in any country outside Southeast Asia where Uber operates.

Data that was previously shared with Uber, except for payment information, will be transferred to Grab. But it will not be visible in the Grab app.

What if you're an Uber corporate user?

Uber for Business services for employees of local and global companies will not be supported for trips taken in Southeast Asia after the transition. Uber rides outside of Southeast Asia will still be supported through existing Uber for Business agreements.

For more information on Grab-Uber merger and how it affects passengers, click here.

Head of Grab Singapore, Mr Lim Kell Jay, told AsiaOne that with the combined operations of Uber and Grab, they expect to see shorter wait-times and faster pick-ups due to a greater concentration of jobs and available drivers.

"This would mean better productivity for our drivers, and better reliability for our passengers. For passengers, we will continue to improve their travel experience and make their commutes much more rewarding with GrabRewards," said Mr Lim.