Here’s why UBER is the peanut butter to my jelly


Why would a 26-year old Malaysian who works in Kuala Lumpur not purchase her own car? No, I am not being a martyr – it’s just that I get to enjoy significant time, cash and productivity boost by relying on ride-sharing services instead.

It may sound like an opening to a horror story for most millennials, but I have not seen the need to own a car for mobility purposes.

Okay, so I might not be the best driver ever, I’m a nervous wreck when driving on a busy highway. Nevertheless, my driving capabilities (or lack thereof) is not the main reason I choose to depend on ride-sharing services such as UBER and GRAB as well as public transportation.

It all boils down to the return on investments (ROI). For analytical purposes, I will be focusing on my biggest transportation cost which is my daily commute to and from work.

Let me hash out the advantages of being a ride-sharing warrior:  


A) If I drive

The typical choice for an urban Gen Y who’s earning at least RM3,000 is a Myvi car. Even if I select the cheapest option available, i.e Myvi 1.3L G costing RM44,300, I will have to fork out RM574 each month over the next 7 years, after putting down a RM4,430 (10%) down payment.

Since I work in Mid Valley, parking costs will cost me another RM10 daily (no overtime) – that’s a minimum of RM200 (RM10 X 20 days).

Not forgetting petrol – the distance to and fro work is 21km or 420km (21km X 20 days) in a month. Assuming I only use my car for my work commute and that 1 litre enables 12km of driving, I require 35 litres each month. Resulting in an additional RM81 (35L x RM2.31 [RON95 prices at point of writing]).

Total monthly costs: RM574+ RM200+ RM81= RM855 

NOTE: This sum does not include maintenance/ repair costs nor takes into consideration longer driving time due to traffic congestion

B) If I take UBER & public transportation

Comparatively, taking an UBER to work costs me on average RM9 while the trip back home is pricier, at roughly RM11 due to a longer distance. These fares do not include promotions, which are dished out pretty frequently, especially during festival season.

Total monthly costs: RM20 X20 days= RM400

NOTE: UBER is my preferred ride-sharing service (roughly 90-95% of the time) primarily because its fares are almost always cheaper than GRAB’s in my neighbourhood.

To drive or not to drive?

Cost Verdict

At roughly RM400, the UBER route is a whopping 113% lower than the cost of driving to work. The best part is, I only take an UBER/GRAB home every other day. Half of the time I will opt for the KTM and LRT; translating to even more cash savings.  This is why it makes so much more sense for me to not get a car, not only is it financially unviable, but a car is a depreciating asset too. Not to mention, I will have to beg, borrow or steal fork out RM4,430 for the car’s deposit – a sum which equals to:

i) 11.1% of the 10% deposit for a RM400,000 home;
ii) 9.84% of the 10% deposit for a RM450,000 home;
iii) 8.86% of the 10% deposit for a RM500,000 home.

Just saying.

FYI: These new residential launches in Kuala Lumpur does not cost more than RM500,000

‘Savings’ from a car’s repayments and downpayment is also better off invested in other assets which will provide you with compounded returns – My car-less lifestyle currently enables me to park 17% of my GROSS salary in a combination of mutual funds and small-cap funds, besides having a rainy day fund.  


Commuting via UBER or GRAB is convenient to a T. I usually book one while packing my breakfast, and my driver will be waiting a few minutes later. Upon reaching my office, all I have to do is wish my driver a good day and hop out.

There’s no need to drive around looking for parking – which is a hassle in most areas, Mid Valley included. Moreover, the time spent not driving translates to more ‘me’ time and enhanced productivity – I either get to read, reply texts and emails or catch up with a friend/ relative.

Also, should I opt to use the LRT/ KTM to get home, I will be chalking up more steps in a day, which means more exercise, hence Reena gets to have her cake and eat it too! (I have a sweet tooth).

Anyway, looking at it, those extra 10 or 20 minutes might seem like nothing, but believe me, the time and energy I save add up.

A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group, which was commissioned by UBER as part of its ‘Unlocking Cities’ campaign, revealed how much of an impact car ownership has on drivers in the capitals of South East Asian countries.

‘Unlocking Cities’ study findings for Malaysia

  • The average KL driver spends nearly 20 days a year in traffic and looking for parking.
  • KL drivers spend nearly RM16,000 on traffic and parking costs each year.
  • Traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur could ease by a whopping 91% if urbanites opted to rideshare.

Lower transport costs & fewer traffic jams? – Why the sharing economy is a win-win

UBER’s Unlocking Cities campaign was launched to promote Uberpool, a ridesharing product that matches multiple passengers heading in the same direction at roughly the same time, fetched by a single Uber driver. This is similar to GrabShare, which was introduced by GRAB in February 2017.

However, I am not really a fan of the GrabShare as most of the time, the other passenger’s destination is usually out of the way of mine – this spells an additional 20-30 minute commute time. Admittedly, this service is not at its optimum as there are not enough Malaysians utilising ride-sharing services, hence the incongruency in matching car-pooling passengers.

Affirming this is Warren Tseng, UBER Malaysia & Singapore GM who said in a recent media briefing,” We will not be introducing Uberpool in Malaysia anytime soon as for the service to be efficient, we are going to need more passengers and we need to grow the business here in Malaysia. Right now there is only 1-4% adoption rate in the country.”

Which brings us to my public plea:

There’s strength in numbers…

I honestly believe that should there be a higher adoption rate among working professionals in Selangor, we will all be able to enjoy cheaper UBER/GRAB fares in most areas of Klang Valley, especially during weekdays.

My younger brother, Rohen, who’s a student at Sunway University depends on UBER & GRAB to get around – he and his buds usually share a ride to get to the mall, cafes, etc. Hundreds, if not thousands of college students in Sunway and the neighbouring Taylor’s University do the same.

This robust demand from students in the Subang Jaya vicinity means that this passenger demographic get to enjoy special promotions on a regular basis.

CHECK OUT: Subang Jaya still a homebuyer’s hub

Rohen and his uni mates obtain (usually higher than normal) designated discounts every other week, all which are not privy to other passenger groups in the Klang Valley. In fact, this fantastic deal just came in for him yesterday:

Higher passenger demand in an area enables UBER/ GRAB to return the favour in the form of bigger, better and more regular discounts – Here’s my brother and his mates cashing it in already!

So what are you waiting for?

Hence why I am imploring other working professionals out there to reconsider their daily mode of transport to and fro work. Hunker down and calculate the costs involved and the pros/cons for these 2 scenarios

(A) Drive to work

(B) Use GRAB and/or UBER (and) public transport instead

In terms of cost, the second choice almost always wins hands down, but many are apprehensive to jump on the ride-sharing bandwagon as they feel it might compromise their comfort and independence.

Based on my own experience, I can testify that the opposite is true. Not only do I glean valuable cash and time ROIs as depicted above, but I rarely have to face the mental stress of being stuck in a traffic jam too. If the traffic is crazy, I could just hop on the LRT/KTM/MRT instead.

Dear urbanites, Gen-Ys especially, give the second option a try for a fortnight or even month, before deciding for sure which avenue best complements your daily routine and lifestyle. I gave it a shot 2 years back as an experiment, before succumbing to the typical route of:

Graduate →Secure a job→MUST BUY CAR.

To sum it up, this millennial is very glad that she opted to take the path less travelled by.

P.S.: An open letter to GRAB & UBER

In the meantime, besides car-pooling, here is how I think UBER & GRAB could encourage more urban professionals to leave their cars at home:

  • Subsidised fare to and from LRT, MRT & BRT stations during working hours/peak hours throughout Monday to Friday.
  • A ‘special pass’ for riders who commute to and fro to the same locations daily (home to workplace). Those who utilize GRAB/UBER at least 80-90% of the work days in the prior month enjoy a flat fare each time, and will not be subjected to surged pricing.

DISCLAIMER: The author is not promoting UBER or GRAB explicitly – She is merely sharing her personal experience and how ride-hailing services has added value to her life over the years. The views expressed are of her own and is not in any form an endorsement or recommendation by

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