Most of us probably do not take Grab rides as often as we take other modes of public transport.
But there are also instances, such as for work, when we really have to save time on travelling back and forth. Grabbing a ride really makes a huge difference to someone who stays in the East and has to travel to Tuas by 9am, for example.
In such cases, how do environmentally-conscious commuters who do not own cars cut down on our carbon emissions when we have to Grab?
Choosing JustGrab Green
JustGrab Green was launched last month as part of Grab’s new sustainability initiatives.
It’s a new ride option for commuters to choose to take only hybrid or electric vehicles.
It is now available in the central region, and I was able to choose JustGrab Green from Kallang and Tanjong Pagar when I tried it out.
First things first, JustGrab Green does not cost more than the usual Grab.
And it shouldn’t, because no one likes to feel the pinch in the pocket.
I’ve taken JustGrab Green twice: The first time from Tanjong Pagar to Sengkang after a meeting at 3pm and the other time from Kallang to Mandai after work at around 7pm.
If you are wondering, the waiting time on both occasions was not longer than usual.
That said, the JustGrab Green fleet of vehicles is drawn from a smaller pool than JustGrab, so it is better to factor in some buffer time.
The ride on a hybrid or an electric car is quieter with less or no reliance on an internal combustion engine. Granted, this isn’t something new, especially with hybrid cars becoming more prevalent in recent years.
All in all, the experience I had with the two JustGrab Green rides did not differ much from my past JustGrab rides.
Going green doesn’t require a sacrifice all the time
It was a little surprising to me as I was expecting to feel a change with this intentional effort to go green.
But on second thought, should it feel different though?
Most changes we make to become more sustainable in our way of living require some forms of “sacrifice”.
It can be the discomfort in getting used to a different way of doing things, spending more money or taking more time to do things the sustainable way.
We are very accustomed to such expectations. However, this is not the case for JustGrab Green.
So what difference does it make, you may ask? Does it make any difference?
Reduced carbon footprint, signal consumer’s preference
Electric and Hybrid vehicles under the JustGrab Green fleet are of the minimally Vehicular Emission Scheme (VES) A2 band that produces less carbon emissions.
Vehicles of VES A2 band emit 125g of carbon dioxide per km or less, that is a 55 per cent drop in emissions as compared to regular petrol vehicles.
JustGrab Green can be an easy point of entry for almost all commuters to reduce their carbon footprint, even if you are new to the topic of climate change.
It is also a way to incentivise more drivers to consider switching to cleaner-energy vehicles or have a think about driving them. With a hybrid or electric vehicle, they may stand a higher chance of getting a booking by being listed in both JustGrab and JustGrab Green.
According to Grab’s ESG Annual Report 2020, 31 per cent of vehicles on Grab app in Singapore were electric or hybrid vehicles in 2020, with a majority being Toyota hybrid vehicles.
Having more commuters choose JustGrab Green also sends a strong signal to the company and other drivers to step up on sustainability efforts.
Grab cited in their press release that they conducted a survey prior, which found that 71 per cent of 3,600 Grab users surveyed are concerned about climate change and would like to take action to mitigate impact.
This shows that consumers’ sentiments matter to the company and will drive them to do more for the environment in the interest of serving their consumers better.
Challenges in greening transport exist
That said, there are real obstacles that impede the shift to cleaner-energy vehicles, and there is no quick solution to them.
For example, the press release mentioned a Grab driver named Elvin Goh citing the lack of charging stations in Singapore as a problem in his first year of driving an electric vehicle.
When I spoke to a hybrid driver during my JustGrab Green ride, I was shocked to learn that replacing a battery cost S$4,000, and he had replaced his car battery twice in three years.
This explains the lacklustre uptake in cleaner-energy vehicles in Singapore among motorists.
Grab recognises these challenges and commits to work with the government and industry players such as Hyundai and Singapore Power to overcome them so as to increase the adoption of electric vehicles in Singapore and the region.
The company also offers rental service of hybrid and electric vehicles to drivers which helped to increase the availability of cleaner-energy vehicles on the platform. Drivers can also try driving an electric vehicle before making such a huge purchase.
Furthermore, Grab aims to have a full fleet of cleaner-energy vehicles by 2030 as part of their 2030 Transport Sustainability Goal.
So, JustGrab Green is just the start.
You can be part of the engine to drive the change in the transport sector with Grab.
Here are the locations where JustGrab Green is now available:
Other than the JustGrab Green pilot, there is also the Green Programme where Grab riders can choose to pay S$0.10 as carbon offset. Grab will match every S$0.10 contribution for up to three million rides.
The full sum will go to carbon offset and solarisation projects in Singapore and the region.
These efforts are in line with the Singapore Green Plan 2030, which aims to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles, and have all vehicles run on cleaner energy by 2040.
The writer of this article sponsored by Grab believes every effort to go green matters.
Top photo by Zheng Zhangxin and Eileen Lee.