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Uber/GrabCar ― The easiest way to get to know good-hearted Malaysians ― Hafizin Tajudin

by December 29, 2016 General

Uber/GrabCar ― The easiest way to get to know good-hearted Malaysians ― Hafizin Tajudin

DECEMBER 29 ― If we were asked to name the most important invention of the century, we might have different answers. For Lee Kwan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister and statesman, the air-conditioner seems to be the most important invention of the 20th century to him. For me, it is Google Map/ Waze. I cannot stop but constantly be amazed with the fact that driving and exploring new places is so easy nowadays. We no longer have to sketch maps or stop every 5km to ask locals for directions, just like our dads used to do in the past.

If I were asked to name the next most important invention of our time however, as a Malaysian urbanite who relies heavily on public transportation (and someone who hates traffic jam!), I will definitely say ride-sharing applications, the likes of Uber and GrabCar!

Why? The answer is this. Since I started working three years ago, I have been using various modes of public transportation to commute around KL including LRT, ERL and Rapid KL bus services. Generally, Malaysia’s public transportation system is not bad at all, or at least it is not as bad as how people perceive it to be. As the LRT Kelana Jaya line will normally depart in every 2 or 3 minutes, and assuming that I embark on the train from Jelatek station at 7.30am, I will still be able to catch 8.00am Rapid KL bus No. 850 to Bukit Damansara every morning. So, not bad at all!

Nevertheless, not all areas are accessible by bus once you arrive at the LRT/MRT/ERL/KTM stations. Even if bus services are available, it might not be a reliable mode if you are in hurry. For example, I once arrived at the ERL Putrajaya station at around 7.30am  for an 8.30am meeting at one of the ministries in Precint 2. I decided to take a bus ride with the hope that I will get to the meeting venue by 7.50am, as the distance was just approximately 6km.

To my surprise, the ride took me 50 minutes because the bus had to go to other Precints first before it went to Precint 2. So this is where Uber and GrabCar come into the picture. These services provide commuters the convenience that we badly need at times and they also help to complete the overall public transportation ecosystem, not to mention the price is way more reasonable than normal cabs. A normal ride from the ERL Putrajaya to Precint 2 only costs RM5, as compared to RM13 if you use a normal taxi.

The strongest reason for my answer however is not what I have briefly mentioned above. At its core, Uber and GrabCar provide me golden opportunities to get to know my fellow, good-hearted Malaysians. Yes they are complete strangers and they might look different from you from the way they dress, their haircut, their shoes or their age, but Grab/Uber makes you sit, communicate, listen and understand. Let me share some personalities that I’ve met and lessons that I’ve learned, in which I might not have benefitted but for Uber/Grab:

― Mr Lau ― He dresses neatly like someone who does office work, so I concluded that he might be driving GrabCar part-time. Actually he is doing it full time. Lesson learned? When asked, he said it is very important to look presentable at all time.

― Mr Ahmad ― He is a very old gentleman, probably in his late 60s. He drives GrabCar and Uber and he told me that he is doing his Diploma in Arabic at UM part-time. Lesson learned? You have to embrace technologies and never stop learning!

― Mr Chan ― A very stylish guy with a Yakuza-like haircut. He is a father and he quit his job to drive GrabCar full-time to spend more time with his children. Lesson learned? Family first!

― Ms X ― I can’t recall her name but she is in her late 60s. She drives Uber because she wants to be independent and not to burden her children financially. Lesson learned? Keep fighting!

If I can summarise succinctly, these ride sharing applications has the potential to revolutionise the way we perceive about each other and the way we look at things. Like you and me, the drivers are the normal hardworking Malaysians. They face challenges that we face and they also share dreams like we do. Talking about unity and togetherness, I honestly believe that we Malaysians love each other but sometimes we are scared of each other because we simply don’t understand each other enough.

Planning to drive to a nearby Tesco to do some shopping later? Drop the plan, download the apps and schedule for an Uber/ GrabCar ride instead. It is time to get to know your fellow Malaysians in the easiest way possible. Have fun!   

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.