Yesterday, we had lunch with some of the executives of upcoming ride-sharing app U-Go, where we learned more about the new TNC (Transport Network Company) and we could ask our questions about it.
I first heard of U-Go during the Uber suspension by LTFRB last August, when the new app was thrust into the limelight during the whole LTFRB fiasco. As it happened, U-Go had just applied for LTFRB accreditation during the same week.
WHAT IS U-GO?
Norman Castillo, U-Go Chairman, told us how U-Go came about. There is actually this non-profit organization composed of Grab and Uber drivers and operators called PTNO (Philippines Transport Network Org).
PTNO started out as just a few Grab & Uber drivers unwinding, having dinner at the end of a long driving day. It became a group that helped each other out, for example, if one of the driver’s vehicles broke down, they called their fellow drivers for help. This small group eventually grew and became PTNO. All the members of PTNO are screened, so only people with good moral character are accepted into the group.
Anyway, some of the driver and operator members eventually felt that they were so at the mercy of Uber and Grab, and they thought, why couldn’t they make their own app?
And that’s how U-Go was born.
While Grab & Uber take about 20-25% commission, U-Go will only get a small 10% commission. This is basically the biggest selling point for drivers and operators.
U-Go also plans to have similar incentives and promos for both drivers and riders as their competitors do.
U-Go is a Filipino company / app. It is a majority Filipino-owned business. The app is designed with the Philippine setting in mind, and it aims to be fair to both driver/operators and riders. It doesn’t want to compete with taxis, but instead wants to complement the taxi industry.
U-Go is planned to launch early next year, but there’s no specific date yet.
They assured us that the fares will be reasonable – they will follow the regular taxi rates, and even though they will have surges during peak times, the surges won’t be those whopping surcharges that we see with other TNCs.
Who can apply to drive for U-Go?
Because the LTFRB is not allowing any new TNVS application at this time, U-Go is limited to accepting drivers with existing accreditation from the LTFRB, meaning, existing accredited Grab & Uber drivers.
They are also encouraging ride-sharing – meaning, they want to use existing cars and will not prioritize those who buy a new car just for this purpose.
Can drivers stay within a limited area?
For part-time drivers who will only drive U-Go to and from their office, it’s possible to set it up so that they will only receive riders who are going the same way.
Other than that, drivers won’t be able to cancel booking just because they don’t like the destination. There will be penalties.
How to Book with U-Go?
You can book with the app, via the web (on PC), or via text if you don’t have mobile internet! They will also accept cash and credit cards, and are partnering with Smart and PayMaya.
You can also schedule rides. For example, you can schedule a ride to pick up your child and yaya from school at a certain time, and you just need to indicate that so the driver will be aware of the situation. This way, you can schedule the booking ahead of time and not worry about it in the middle of a busy work day.
Will Pooling be Available?
Not yet, because they said the LTFRB is frowning upon the “Uberpooling” or “Grabsharing” services. Personally, I think they should offer some sort of pooling service, because that is what the market wants. If I am not in a hurry, I go for UberPool to save some money, and based on the hell that was raised when Uber was suspended last August, many people take the more affordable pooled or shared rides on their way home rather than subject themselves to the torture of commuting.
The app has an SOS button, so whenever a rider or a driver feels unsafe, they can easily press the very accessible button right on the app, and the nearest PNP will immediately be alerted to look for the car, they will have all pertinent information like GPS location, etc. The SOS button will work even if you don’t have internet access, because it works via text.
This feature is sorely needed, especially with the recent carnapping and murder of Grab driver Gerardo Maquidato.
I hope this gives you a little idea of what U-Go has to offer. We’ll have to wait until it launches to see if it will give Grab & Uber a run for their money, but the competition will surely benefit us riders because we’ll have more choices and hopefully, better rates!
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