Recently, the government ran a crackdown against unlicensed operators of Uber and Grab. It penalized the two ride-sharing platform for exceeding the Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) licenses. The LTFRB was threatening to impound vehicles of these non-compliant operators. It penalized Uber and Grab by paying a fine of 5 million pesos each.
From the side of the Uber/Grab operators, they complained that they have applied for it, however LTFRB refuses to approve their application. On the LTFRB side, they argued that the transportation network company (TNC) exceeded the allowed licenses to operate. It seems there is no intention of increasing the licenses cap.
The legal merits of both sides is up for debates in court. There are speculations that the government is just protecting the interests of taxi operators. However this can be considered a subjective matter. One thing is for certain though, Uber and Grab have impacted Filipino lives. Netizens have risen up and urged the government to reconsider its crackdown.
Why People are Defending Uber and Grab
Metro Manila is known for its horrendous traffic. The middle and upper middle class pay alot of taxes while they see no improvements on the transport and public infrastructure works. These people spend almost 2 to 3 hours with no efficient public transport to turn to.
For decades, taxi’s are plagued with complaints about its poor services. Many drivers resort to overpricing and choosing their routes. The MRT trains always bog down and is also poorly maintained. Public buses are overcrowded. For a Filipino it is a struggle to get a decent ride.
When Uber and Grab came to the picture, things changed. People are able to book rides easier. Being stuck in traffic is still there but at least thats the only thing one will be dealing with. After decades of neglect, people finally find comfort with their rides.
Advantages of Uber and Grab that Government Should Understand
* Safe Commuting– people appreciate the fact that they can track who their Uber and Grab drivers are. If anything happens to them, these people can be tracked using the systems. 3 years ago when we take a cab, we usually text our friends the license plates of the taxi. Another safety feature of these apps is insurance. Just like a taxi, if anything happens to the passenger the TNC have insurance coverage for them. If you run a survey, it will be evident that Uber/Grab is safer compared to taxis.
* Better Accountability– another advantage of these ride-hailing apps is that they are serious on customer feedbacks. Drivers can be suspended or removed from the plaftorms if they do not behave professionally. This culture of accountability is evident to the operators, they are cautious even on minor offences like cleanliness of their cars. People felt that Uber and Grab is doing a better job than the LTFRB hotline itself. There are alot of complaints that the hotline is hard to reach.
* Reducing Traffic– there is this issue being circulated by taxi drivers and other government officials. According to them, Uber/Grab increased the private cars in the road. This is very inaccurate. What they failed to factor in is that alot of working professionals have started leaving their vehicles at home because of these ride-hailing apps.
For them it is more cost-efficient to leave their cars behind (less expense from gas, maintenance, parking, etc). A Grab or Uber vehicle can accommodate 6 passengers during rush hour. You can expect at least three of these passengers leaving their cars. This helps reduce the private vehicles in the road. This effect is amplified because Uber pool and Grab share is gaining traction. More people are encouraged to use these alternatives instead.
Uber and Grab cars spend less time on the road compared to taxis. They only travel if there is a booking. A cab roams around the metro even if no one is on-board their vehicles, adding up more space in our congested streets.
* Fair Prices to Remote Places– a few years ago, it is a pain commuting from Alabang to Cavite especially during late at night. Taxis will demand a minimum of 500 php just to transport you to Molino Cavite. The ironic this is that it only costs 450 php to travel from Buendia Makati to Molino Cavite This is more than 3x the length of the entire trip. When Uber and Grab came, the Alabang to Molino route only costs around 200 php to 250 php.
* Livelihood for People– Uber/Grab drivers are a mixed of people coming from different walks of life. There are drivers who retired and invested their savings through these apps. There are OFWs who went back to the Philippines and found a decent source of income by becoming an Uber driver. There are others who have a day job but had to drive under Grab to make ends meet. Some drivers used to be businessmen who went bankrupt. They are now recovering thanks to the help of ride-hailing apps.
It is evident that technology and innovation has disrupted the transportation industry. They brought improvement to people’s lives thats why alot of folks love them.
Taxi drivers and operators should learn from this experience. People preferred the alternative because of taxi’s history of rendering poor service. Instead of plotting to get Uber/Grab out of the picture, why address the real issue? Improve your service.
For the government, instead of preventing innovation why not learn from Uber and Grab? Improve on simplle thinks like making the LTFRB hotline more responsive. Replace bureaucracy and encourage out of the box thinking to help make people’s lives better. Government should catch up with the times and aim at making things easier for the public.
Before we conclude this article, allow us to share this funny video. This perfectly explains the views of commuters around the Metro.
Author: Bobby Ben Davis Cristuta
Bobby is the CMO and Co-founder for Admov Philippines. He is a serial technopreneur. He is passionate in delivering emerging marketing channels and bring Manila as destination for innovative advertising technologies.