Grab goes cashless, seeks to charge disinfection fee as Metro Manila eases to GCQ

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 29) — All GrabCar transactions will go cashless as part of security protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Grab Philippines said.

Grab Philippines President Brian Cu on Thursday said with the resumption of services, passengers may only use their credit and debit cards or load up their GrabPay services to pay for their ride.

GrabCar was suspended when Metro Manila was placed under the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in mid-March and all forms of public transportation were prohibited from operating.

Operators of Transportation Network Vehicle System, which include Grab, have been allowed to resume operations in Metro Manila starting June 1 as the national capital region transitions to a more relaxed general community quarantine or GCQ.

RELATED: How can we make commuting safe in the time of COVID-19?

Apart from cashless transactions, the company is rolling out additional safety features and hygiene requirements with the introduction of GrabProtect.

Each GrabCar will only have a maximum capacity of two passengers, who need to sit apart at the back and move closer to the windows.

A barrier separating the front seats from the back seats will also be installed, and all 20,000 fleets will have hygiene kits for regular disinfection of vehicles.

"We are enforcing the barrier between the passenger and the driver," Cu stressed. "With the government, that's non-mandatory, it's optional. But for Grab that barrier will be permanent so you're gonna see it on all Grab cars."

Drivers and passengers must wear face masks at all times. A driver or a passenger may cancel the trip if either of them is not wearing a face mask.

"Our interest here is not for the driver to cancel or for the passenger to cancel, but really to make sure that each party is observing specific rules that we've set," said Cu, adding that all their drivers are undergoing safety training.

But with the added cost to ensure the safety of the driver and passengers, Cu said the company is asking the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to allow them to charge extra ₱5 as disinfection and payment fee per trip.

"The disinfection kits and disinfection measures is an added cost, burden to the drivers... But none of these has anything to do with the per kilometer or per minute fares," Cu explained. "So right now, we aren't charging it to the customers pa. Right now, it's all borne by both Grab and the drivers."

Grab Philippines also announced that they are lowering their surge rates. From twice the regular fare when their operations were suspended during the enhanced community quarantine, Cu said they will make it 1.5 times the regular fare.