July 18, 2017

Grab/Uber or Taxis: Which do you prefer?

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  • There has been a lot of buzz about taxis, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and transportation network companies (TNCs) Uber and Grab. In particular, it’s about how there will be fewer vehicles available from Uber and Grab by July 26 because of unlicensed Uber and Grab vehicles, known as transport network vehicle services (TNVS).

    People have been talking amongst themselves both online and in real life about which is actually better, and TNVS are usually bringing home the bacon. Instead of deciding which one is better, let’s look at what you get when you go either-or:

    Taxis: The Old Staple

    Taxis have been around for as long as, well, I’ve been around. They were the go-to option for anyone looking to go from one place to another without thinking of where to stop and how many rides were needed.

    IMAGE Wikimedia Commons

    They might have been the most efficient form of transport in the country at one point… until there were simply too many of them going around. More taxis meant more drivers, which also meant you had more people competing for a growing group of commuters. Add to that the rise of gas prices, and you see what taxi drivers have to resort to.

    They haggle for your fare, try to “cheat” you from what’s shown on the meter by tinkering with it (often referred to as batingting), or outright refuse to take a passenger, especially when it’s raining too hard or traffic is too heavy.

    What I’ve noticed is that they do it more to keep their jobs as it’s the only thing they usually have to feed their families and send their kids to school. It’s an honest job, but a very cutthroat and difficult one.

    Most people don’t know of such plights of the humble taxi driver, and while there are those who don’t resort to such forms of deceit, their image has been scarred by the first few bad eggs to dabble in such dishonest ways of serving the public.

    TNVS: New Kids on the Block

    Transport Network Vehicle Services like Uber and Grab had a bit of a hard time gaining ground in the country, but they’ve since ballooned like crazy.

    IMAGES Uber and Grab Philippines Facebook pages

    They’re wickedly efficient: imagine getting a guaranteed ride to where you want to go from where you’re at without so much as getting up from your chair. All you need is a few taps and you’re good to go.

    You’ll know the price beforehand, plot exactly where you want to go and have the assurance of knowing exactly who your driver is, how they look, what they’re driving, and how they’ve treated other passengers.

    The only catch: price surge. At certain points in the day, prices for these TNVS go up because of congestion, demand, and other conditions beyond the control of the driver. There was even a time when prices surged so high that they went into five digits (remember the Christmas Day fiasco?)!


    Both forms of transport operate pretty much the same way: there’s a set price for the first few kilometers, with each kilometer beyond the first few being charged a certain amount. The difference: Grab and Uber passengers know how much that is up front; those who ride taxis don’t.

    Both can also refuse to take a passenger. Don’t believe me? Check your Grab and Uber app the next time you book a ride during rush hour. At times, it doesn’t matter how many drivers are available; you can’t seem to get a ride.

    This is because they can refuse to pick you up without you knowing it with a simple touch on their screen. Taxis do the same, but the impact is greater. Since it’s done in broad daylight, other people will see you get refused by a taxi driver.

    Then there’s the matter of safety. Both do their checks and balances for the car and the driver, but that hardly matters when there are cases of both TNVS drivers and taxi drivers either robbing you or taking advantage of you during your ride.

    Technology seems to be the only difference between the two, as its leagues easier to get a ride from Grab or Uber than it is to flag down a regular taxi.

    ‘Which is better?’ More like ‘Which do you prefer?’

    Even with all the similarities, people still lean towards Grab and Uber, and with good reason: there’s an easy way of reporting any erring drivers because of the app. Taxis, on the other hand, aren’t that easy to report.

    There are times when Grab and Uber cars aren’t available, or the prices are exponentially high compared to a single taxi ride. Taxis come to the rescue, but people aren’t as willing to ride a taxi as they used to be when Grab and Uber first got here.

    Still, both services have their patrons, but TNVS have gotten hold of a chunk of the population because of the convenience they offer despite similar pricing.

    THEY HAVE THE FINAL SAY. Since the business of public transportation is regulated by the LTFRB, they have the final word./IMAGE Wikimedia Commons

    Regulation seems to be the biggest problem, and the LTFRB holds all the aces in that regard. Taxis feel like they’re being thrown to the wayside because of TNVS, yet the public seems to want TNVS more because of what they offer.

    I can’t say which is better or which you prefer because as far as I’m concerned, both have their pros and cons. Both have their stories of why they are what they are, and we can’t change that.

    We at Philippine Primer would like to know what you think. Hit us up in the comments section and give us your view on the matter. Oh, and please no harsh words for either side.

    Written by: Andronico Del Rosario
    Image sources: Uber PhilippinesGrab Philippines, Wikipedia Commons

    Recent Comments

    Grab/Uber are much safer than taxis.

    7 months ago

    Spot on!

    2 years ago

    I’d like to weigh in that even though Grab and Uber drivers can refuse a passenger, they are still better at it because of statistics:

    At a push of a button, I can tell ten (10) drivers where I’m heading and they all can decline within seconds. Giving me time to look for another way while at the comfort of indoors. Versus a normal Taxi where I only get to hail one driver at a time, tell them where I’m heading before they decline me. This could take me hours of standing by the road (and it has)!

    It is a similarity but the practicality of the app greatly differentiates TNVS to Taxis.

    LTFRB has also been saying that registered public vehicles like Taxis, Jeepneys and Buses are safer for commuters. This enraged netizens who has had bad experiences on the road including me who was robbed inside a bus. TNVS minimizes the danger because of the system of letting you ID the car plate and driver before getting into the vehicle. Commuters can also report good and bad behavior of the driver after the ride. I’ve never felt secure and I don’t see where LTFRB is coming from when they stated that.

    Additionally, I appreciate the navigational tool that comes with the Grab and Uber app. I cannot count the times I was asked by the Taxi driver, “di ko po kasi alam doon” or “saan po daan natin”. There are times where I take the taxi because the venue was unfamiliar or did not have jeepneys and to be asked those questions worries me because the Taxi could go in circles, the meter is running and we could get lost.

    For LTFRB to bully TNVS despite their compliance shows how threatened the government is by the conveniences Grab and Uber have that they simply cannot offer. It is disgusting.

    2 years ago
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