Yesterday, the LTFRB conducted a sting operation on Uber. Someone from the LTFRB booked a trip through the Uber app, and when the clueless driver arrived at MetroWalk, he was apprehended, fined P200,000, and his vehicle impounded for 3 months.
Yesterday, a black SUV with plate # WII-360 was impounded when LTFRB booked a trip through Uber. Owner fined P200,000. @news5aksyon
— James Beltran (@iamjamestv5) October 23, 2014
I was very happy when Uber launched in Manila. Finally! An alternative to the unreliable taxis that plied these twisted streets. I recommended them to friends and family. and although I myself hadn’t had a chance to use the service, the people I know who have, all had positive reviews.
Sure, it was slightly more expensive than getting a regular taxi, but why are people willing to pay the premium?
The advantages of Uber:
- It’s SAFE – the feedback I’ve received was adamant about this, and this is the most important aspect people care about. There is tracking and accountability from using the app, there’s a feedback process, and as a passenger, you just feel safer knowing that the drivers are vetted and that their contact information is easily available should anything untoward happen. You’re not afraid that you might get robbed, or worse. I’m sure we’ve heard of many news reports of people being robbed or worse inside cabs.
- There’s no “panloloko” – you know the rate going in. You’re not going to be duped into paying a higher price, or be taken for ride by using a long, circuitous route to get where you’re going to get a higher cab fare, or be forced to “negotiate” a higher price before they even let you in the cab.
- Uber drivers take you wherever you want to go – they don’t refuse to take you somewhere because it’s out of the way.
- Uber drivers are courteous – I haven’t heard any stories about bad Uber drivers yet…
- There’s no chasing after taxis – this is the bane of my existence. I hate chasing after taxis who then refuse to take me where I want to go, or ask for a “contrata” price. With Uber, you just book a ride, then wait for the Uber car to arrive. You can even track it on the app. There’s no need to wait in line for hours at the taxi stand, either.
- Uber cars are clean and well-maintained.
- You pay by credit card – no more taxi drivers telling you they don’t have change, forcing you to leave them with big tips even if they don’t deserve it!
- No tipping! You don’t need to tip. You are not required to tip. You won’t feel forced or obligated to tip. It is totally up to you if you want to tip.
- They have PROMOS! They had that Magnum Ice Cream promo, Mother’s Day promo, 40% off Rainy Day promo…
Is it any wonder why a lot of people are using the service now, only a year after it launched?
CLAIMS AND ACCUSATIONS
The LTFRB claims that Uber does not have a taxi franchise, and considers Uber drivers operating taxis without a franchise.
Uber claims that they are a technology company that connects riders with drivers, and that they are not taxi operators.
But the Philippine government being what it is, the LTFRB has threatened to shut down Uber. This has already started to cause an uproar in social media. Just do a twitter search for tweets to @LTFRB_Chairman. Carl Ople of Unbox.ph is also starting a campaign to push back.
Many have started speculating that maybe some politicians who own taxi services may be behind this move to shut down Uber and other apps like GrabTaxi, etc…
Also, some people have been saying that the LTFRB is not making money from Uber because Uber is not paying franchise fees to the LTFRB, and this could also be relevant.
Personally, I feel bad for the Uber driver who was just working and got caught in the crossfire of LTFRB’s war with Uber. Hello. It’s not like he was dealing drugs or anything, which is what I think sting operations are usually meant for. He was probably working this sideline to help pay off the monthly installments on his SUV. And then to be slapped with a P200,000 fine and have his car impounded for 3 months? I’ve seen some of the impound areas in this city. They are open air. In 3 months, his SUV will be terribly devalued because of poor conditions in the impound lot. No one will clean or maintain his car. Worse, it could be taken out and used by other people.
I like Uber. I avoid taxis if I can, and I usually drive or ride “sabay” with someone else. BUT, I like the thought that if I ever get stranded somewhere in Manila and need a ride home, Uber’s there to save the day.
Several times in the past, I had been stranded, with public utility vehicles full and yet throngs of people running after them. The few taxis who were available turned me down because of my destination, or I turned them down because they were negotiating double the usual fare, seeing that I’m desperate. This is a situation I hate with a passion, and that is why I actively avoid it. I also hate waiting for and hailing cabs who might or might not accept my destination.
So yes, if I ever need to go somewhere and I’d rather not take the car, I’m willing to pay a slightly higher price for Uber. Take a moment to let that sink in. As barat as I am, I am willing to pay a *slightly* higher price for Uber because it just provides better, safer service. I want Uber to stay in Manila because it’s a heck of a lot better alternative than taking my chances on a regular cab.
If local cab companies want to compete, they need to start providing better service, policing their ranks, and vetting their drivers. Don’t tolerate cabbies refusing passengers because of their destination, or negotiating fares. I know some cab companies have already started doing so, but there are still a lot of problems within that industry. And that is what the LTFRB needs to be looking into instead of going after popular alternative services like Uber.
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