Uber wants you to help save the environment on Malaysia Day by not driving your car

(FILES) This file photo taken on August 17, 2017 shows a man posing with his mobile phone displaying the Uber app in Manila.Ride-sharing app Uber said on August 29, 2017 it had paid nearly 10 million USD in fines and drivers compensation to return to the Philippines roads, after it was suspended for defying the government. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE

IF you don’t have a car but used to own one, I bet it was hard adapting to this new lifestyle, right? But some people in Malaysia have become comfortable with the idea of not owning a car.

This might seem hard to believe if you look at vehicle ownership trends in Malaysia. Did you know, according to market research agency Nielsen, in 2014 Malaysia had the third highest rate of private car ownership in the world, with 93% of households here owning a car?

Malaysia is also third in the world among countries with the highest incidence of multiple car ownership, with over half (54%) of households having more than one car.

In June 2015, the World Bank estimated that the people of Kuala Lumpur spend more than 250 million hours a year stuck behind the wheel. Traffic in KL alone incurred a cost of between 1.1% and 2.2% of the country’s GDP in 2014. A mere 17% of commuters in the Klang Valley use public transport, further contributing to congestion.

Malaysians have yet to realise the freedom that comes from not worrying about a bleeding wallet, drained by expenses such as maintaining a vehicle, paying off a loan, and dealing with fluctuating petrol prices – not forgetting the hassle of parking and the stress of manoeuvring through rush hour traffic.

The list just goes on.

When Uber came into existence in 2009, the idea was simple: push a button, get a ride.

Public transporation options by Uber
The Uber app allows riders and rivers to rate each other, which keeps riders polite and drivers responsible. Photo: AFP

Eight years later, Uber is now present in 77 countries and more than 600 cities worldwide; in May this year, the service reached its five billionth trip. The network’s possibilities are endless and Malaysia has definitely not been left behind.

Celebrating three years since Uber landed in Malaysia in 2014, the ride hailing company’s presence is strong in 15 cities across Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak. The connectivity is great, and Malaysians are reaping many benefits from it.

Blogger Elie Lam, 27, for instance, believes that owning a vehicle is not an absolute necessity especially with the current economic climate.

“Even the auto industry has taken a hit, with prices of cars escalating,” she says, before adding, “Let’s not even mention the volatile fuel prices. With Uber, it’s convenient to commute, and I think it’s a great alternative for people like me who dislike getting stuck in traffic while driving or looking for parking.”

Lam considers Uber a viable, affordable choice for her daily commute between SS3, Petaling Jaya, and her workplace in Bangsar South, KL, spending just RM9 per trip on average.

Access to public transportation is a much-needed necessity, especially for those who live further away from urban centres. If one does not own a car or can’t afford to own one – what are the options?

For Aida Yasmin, 20, who juggles work and university studies, commuting between Sungai Buloh, Selangor, and Petaling Jaya daily is no easy task. She has, however, found thrifty ways to travel using Uber alongside other modes of public transportation.

Due to commuters like Aida, Uber has observed that 20% of total trips begin or end at a train station – a great example of how Uber complements public transport and addresses first- and last-mile connectivity.

Aida’s daily route includes taking an Uber from her home in Kundang Jaya, Rawang, at 6am to the Kuang KTM station to catch the first train out – and sleeping through 14 stops – until she reaches the Seri Setia KTM station, near Sungai Way, Petaling Jaya. From there, she takes an Uber to her office – it’s the fastest way to ensure punctuality.

“When comparing the expenses of owning a car with what I can afford, the most realistic option for me is ride-sharing for my short transits,” she says.

“Before Uber came along, getting from my house to my office was a real hassle.

“Now that it is here to stay, it just makes it more convenient for people like me who need to connect from one point to another. At the end of the day, it also fits my budget,” she says.

Public transport options from Uber
One of the conveniences of ride-hailing is letting your driver deal with the traffic while you get work done like a boss! Photo: Filepic

“Plus, I can begin my work on the go during the Uber rides.”

There are many more like Aida who choose a car-free lifestyle because it not only fits their budget but also affords them the option of moving around reliably and conveniently while they tend to other important tasks.

No stranger to needing reliable transportation, Carmen Wee’s first encounter with Uber was in Britain back in 2014 when a taxi driver bailed on her scheduled ride to Birmingham Airport.

“I had heard about Uber before but it didn’t occur to me to use it until that moment of desperation. It changed my perspective.

“I just think it’s great that since Uber came along, we have more reliable and convenient options of commuting available to meet our immediate needs,” she says.

Wee, 23, has since preferred using Uber to get around, as there’s no fuss about driving and parking, especially in highly congested areas in the Klang Valley such as Mid Valley and the KL city centre.

“I enjoy the ease of not having to drive myself through these areas where I spend most days either for work or leisure.

“Plus, I’ve found Uber a safe way to travel because everything I need to know is on the Uber app.

“This kind of technology was never there before but now that it’s here, why not make the most of it?” she says.

Ride-sharing technology is still new to many Malaysians but the idea is catching on rapidly because of how easy it is to get a ride at the touch of a button.

With Malaysia Day being marked on Saturday, have you considered how you can contribute to this nation we call home? Uber Malaysia wants you to be a small part of making the environment and living experience better for everyone. And one way of doing both these things is by reducing traffic congestion and getting cars off the road.

Would you consider taking a ride in a ride-hailing car for these causes? Every small change IS a change for the better – so this Malaysia Day, why not leave your car behind and try something new? Let’s contribute to reducing congestion and air pollution one ride at a time.

With all the technological advancements pioneered by Uber as well as recent positive developments in the Malaysian public transportation landscape, maybe it’s time to consider a car-free lifestyle?

This article is brought to you by Uber.

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