Time for a killing for e-hailing drivers…

Fewer drivers means more rides and higher paycheck for ‘legal drivers’


THIS could be the best time to start driving for e-hailing companies. While many are shying away from the business following the government’s decision to make the public service vehicle (PSV) licence mandatory, the more diligent drivers who have already met all the requirements can now start dreaming big.

The PSV, which has been made compulsory for all e-hailing drivers beginning tomorrow (July 12), has slashed the number of drivers drastically.

The fewer drivers means less ride-hailing cars on the road, translating to more rides and higher paycheck for the “legal drivers”. Fares are also expected to rise as demand exceeds supply. The government has said it would not regulate the fares as echoed by Transport Minister Anthony Loke earlier this week.

Making the PSV mandatory is also part of the government’s move to regulate the ride sharing industry and create a level playing field for taxi drivers, who are currently drowning among more than 200,000 e-hailing drivers.

Loke also revealed in the Dewan Rakyat last week that approximately 62% out of 16,338 applicants who sat for the PSV licence application theory test between April and June had passed the compulsory examination, which shows that a huge number of drivers have decided to move on to other professions.

The latest number that was recently shared by Grab Malaysia was also quite a revelation. Grab, the country’s biggest e-hailing company, said in a statement yesterday that only 10% of its active driver-partners have obtained their PSV licence.

Now, let’s do a simple math. At one point, Grab had over 200,000 drivers registered to the application. After the PSV was introduced, the company now has about 20,000 drivers. Simple mathematics will tell you that passengers will have to wait longer and pay more. Drivers who brave the agony of the test would have fatter pockets.

This bit of information may encourage others to quit their day job and make the current licensed drivers smile all the way to the bank. During the early days of e-hailing in the country, despite the agony, ill-treatment and threats by taxi drivers, the pioneers of this shared economy phenomena pocketed as much as RM11,000 a month.

The ride sharing platforms were the “golden goose” for these drivers.

It is still today. One Grab driver, who focuses mainly on the Kuala Lumpur International Airport route, said his take home pay has been on the uptick lately.

According to him, some of his friends who were willing to work during the recent Hari Raya Aidilfitri holiday period, could earn as much as RM1,800 a day.

“Some of them just worked for a few days,” said the 28-year-old part-time driver from Semenyih, Selangor.

Well, it is all about capitalism’s simplest formula — supply versus demand. Many drivers opted to go back to their hometown. That, however, pushed demand to the brink of “desperation” for passengers. Financially, it was like picking rambutan during the peak season.

Their fortune also comes from the foreign holiday-makers, who are largely e-hailing service users. The many gory stories of taxis overcharging have turned these users to be ride-hailing loyalists.

The “gold rush” is expected to remain for the next couple of months. It would not be a surprise if the drivers will rake in the same amount of money like when the service first came to town.

In fact, Grab had said the shortage of drivers was expected following the implementation of the rulings.

“We anticipate a reduction of driver-partners active on the roads. With fewer driver-partners on the roads to serve an ever-increasing demand for ride-hailing, consumers will feel the pinch of longer waiting times, especially during peak hours and rainy days,” it said in the statement.

Passengers have been told to book their rides earlier and not to cancel locked rides.

“Ride during non-peak hours. Getting a ride is much easier outside the peak hours of 7am-9am and 5pm-8pm,” Grab said.