I commute on a daily basis: from home to work and vice versa and, actually, to wherever I go. The idea of getting myself a car is out of the picture; I do not know how to drive, and the responsibilities of owing one is enough for me to decide not to have one! Public transportation is challenging, mind you. The heat of the sun, the thick smoke in the streets, the dust everywhere! It is both tiring and frustrating. The advent of Grab and Uber in the Philippines has made my life a whole lot easier, and it is sad and infuriating that LTFRB is thwarting this service that has amassed huge patronage.
Why LTFRB Is Thwarting the Service
LTFRB claims that this is for the benefit of the commuting public. They want to regulate the number of Grab and Uber drivers to ensure public safety. Starting July 27, Grab and Uber drivers without Certificate of Public Convenience will not be permitted to operate. This is ridiculous since LTFRB has stopped issuing CPC for more than a year now. You can learn more about this here.
Why I Grab and Uber
Convenience. Unlike other mode of public transportation, Grab and Uber offer convenience. I do not need to wait under the sun or rain to hail a ride; I can do it inside my room, wait for the car to arrive, and hop in. Unlike cabs, tricycles, and jeepneys, Grab and Uber does not make me compete with other passengers, brave the smoky and dusty streets to get a ride, and even experience rejection from cab drivers who do not want to take me to where I want to be (and this happens a lot to be honest).
Safety. All Grab and Uber drivers are required to go through certain processes and series of training before they go out on the streets to take passengers, and aside from that, they are also required to submit several documents to ensure the passengers’ safety (NBI clearance, drug test results, etc.) Our cab, jeepney, and even our habal-habal drivers do not even go through these processes. Also, I can share my trip information with my friends and family (driver details, car details, location, etc.), and should I ever leave something behind after the trip, I have their contact information so I can always communicate with them to retrieve anything I left behind (this happened a few times, and I was always able to get my wallet and documents back; imagine if this happened in a tricycle, a jeepney, or an untraceable taxi).
Upfront Fare. Sure, tricycles and jeepneys are more affordable than Grab and Uber, but I like the idea of knowing how much I have to pay before my trip starts. Unlike cabs, Grab and Uber tell me the fixed amount I have to pay, and regardless of the traffic, that amount does not change compared to cabs where your fare depends on your destination and the traffic condition going there.
Customer Orientation. Grab and Uber drivers are more polite than cab drivers. They are also much friendlier and more focused to the need of their passengers. I have experienced cab drivers refusing to take me to my destination because they do not like it, or they want me to pay fifty (50.00 PHP) to one hundred fifty (150.00 PHP) pesos on top of the metered fare because my destination is known to have heavy traffic. I have also experienced cab drivers insulting me casually while in transit. These things never happened with Grab and Uber.
I find it ironic how LTFRB is so determined to regulate the influx of Grab and Uber drivers for the “public’s safety” especially since, more and more passengers feel unsafe to take other means of public transportation. I personally have dealt with a lot of taxi drivers who speak to passengers rudely, drunk jeepney drivers, and even cab drivers who wouldn’t convey me because they want me to add on top of the metered fare or want me to pay a fixed amount, which is more than twice the usual metered fare.
If we actually take a look at the safety aspect of this argument, there are more complaints filed against cab drivers (assault, sex- related offense, robbery, verbal harassment, and many more) than from Grab and Uber drivers. I do not see the sense in this at all. And the thing that infuriates me the most is that the people who imposed this regulation are those who do not even commute on a daily basis—perhaps not at all! How could they instantiate their claim that Grab and Uber pose inconvenience to the commuting public when they do not even know how to commute?
We commuters deserve better! We deserve Grab and Uber! Why don’t they just let the public—the people who actually use the services—decide whether or not Grab and Uber pose public inconvenience?
Turns out the LTFRB head owns Basic taxi and he also heads a couple of taxi associations. That explains the irony and strange logic in LTFRB’s premise. That’s conflict of interest right there. He shouldn’t be holding that position.