Grab gets positive response for Subic Freeport franchise

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Grab, Southeast Asia’s leading Internet-based ride-hailing and booking company, is receiving positive feedback for its plan to expand operations into the Subic Bay Freeport.

Grab Philippines Head for Expansion Carlo Cu Unjieng outlined last week the firm’s proposal for a Subic franchise and asked Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) officials for feedback on what riding platform would be appropriate in this special economic zone.

Cu Unjieng said the firm could position either a GrabTaxi or a GrabCar, or even a GrabBike operation in Subic, depending on the needs of the local riding public.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma welcomed the proposal, saying it would result in better transport services within Subic Freeport, especially now that cruise ships frequently visit the area to bring in foreign tourists.

“I am all for this because it is an alternative platform for the riding public who would want ease and convenience, as well as competitive rates,” Eisma said.

“Of course, this may pose a challenge to existing transport operators in and around the Freeport, but I happen to see it as an opportunity for everybody to step up and improve their services,” she added.

With this, Eisma advised Grab to also secure the approval of local government units around the Freeport, pointing out the neighboring communities would constitute a huge sector of the potential customers.

She said residents of Zambales and Bataan who work or do business in the Subic Bay Freeport would principally benefit should Grab gain a foothold into Subic and neighboring areas.

Based on responses to an informal survey conducted last week by the Subic Bay Community Center, a private social-media account, most residents are in favor of the introduction of Grab in the Subic area.

The commenters said they have been waiting for an improved transport system that charges reasonable fare and provides fast, reliable service.

Still, some respondents worried the move might cause more traffic in the Freeport, while some suggested the taxi service operating here be converted to Grab units.

Other respondents expressed hope that Grab also operate in Olongapo City and Subic, Zambales, which are both local population centers.

Grab, which originated in Singapore, now operates in seven countries—Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines, where it is present in major urban centers in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, Iloilo, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Angeles City and Balanga, Bataan.

Eisma said Grab is primarily needed in the Subic Freeport to modernize the local transportation system and revolutionize how Subic business locators, workers and visitors are being ferried in and around this growing business and industrial center.

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Henry E. Empeño took up A.B. Journalism at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, but plunged headlong into actual newspaper work without graduating from college.

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