Anthony Tan, Group CEO, Grab: Interview

Anthony Tan, Group CEO, Grab

Interview: Anthony Tan

What logistics and infrastructure challenges does public transport face, and what is currently being done to address these issues?

ANTHONY TAN: Public transport infrastructure in Indonesia is still catching up with the needs of the people. Almost 1.4m commuters travel from Jakarta’s outskirts into the city centre every day, and 70% of these commuters drive in with their own automobiles. Infrastructure can take years to build and we must provide alternative transport options that can save time. What is needed are safe and affordable services that will help people out of traffic, commuters and otherwise.

As the country develops and more people buy cars and motorbikes, we have seen roads, and accompanying rules, evolve in a bid to manage the growing congestion. It is necessary for the government to find ways to prevent traffic jams, such as introducing the odd-even licence plate policy, but an unintended consequence may be the strain on public transport services as more people have to leave their vehicles at home if they are not allowed on the roads on that particular day. Transport providers must support these government initiatives and make it easier for commuters to take public transport.

When you amplify these transport problems across the 17,500 islands of Indonesia, which has a land area of around 1.9m sq km, it is clear to see how complex an issue it is to enhance connectivity, improve logistics and build an infrastructure network in Indonesia. The near-term solution is to leverage on-demand transport services that make use of technology to provide more efficient, safer and competitive transportation options for everyone involved.

How do you assess the current regulatory framework for ride-hailing apps in Indonesia, and how would you like to see these regulations change?

TAN: We understand that the Ministry of Transport has just issued Regulation No. 108 of 2017 to replace Regulation No. 26 of 2017 that was challenged through a judicial review process, and that some of its contents had been annulled by a Supreme Court ruling. We respect and appreciate the newly launched regulation as a continuation of the legal foundation for the operation of ridesharing. We believe that an ideal regulatory framework must, first, promote healthy competition among companies in the transport sector – whether they are conventional taxis, ojeks ( motorbike taxis) or ride-hailed private cars. Second, this framework must ensure the safety of both drivers and passengers using public transport services. Lastly, it must encourage innovation and the use of technology so that transport providers are encouraged to find new ways to improve services for all consumers.

How do you envision the future development of the public transport network, and what role do you think ride-hailing apps have to play in this?

TAN: Our vision is to make transport more accessible for any Indonesian who needs to move from one place to another. It is difficult to commute from the smaller towns if you do not own a vehicle. Multimodal transport can be a real game-changer for lower income groups who live further away from the city, giving them access to affordable forms of transportation to travel to and from work.

For a country with a population of over 250m people and one of the largest metropolises in the world, it is quite unique for public transport infrastructure to be in an early development phase. The ride-hailing industry will keep expanding to more cities to ensure that everyone will be able to move more freely and access greater economic opportunities. We do not just use data analytics for efficiency or to reduce congestion; we also use it to do social good. Ride-hailing apps encourage safer driving in a number of ways, such as by monitoring driving speeds and enabling passengers to provide honest feedback about their experiences.

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