Cab booking app uplifts livelihood of taxi drivers
Carlo S. Lorenciana (The Freeman) - January 10, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Local taxi driver Ronel Diapana, 42, used to earn around P500 a day as take-home pay for his family, but since he started using the cab booking app GrabTaxi, Diapana’s income has improved, as he claims, bringing his daily profits to around P900.

For him, that amount is already big to feed his family. He is just one of the hundreds of Cebuano cab drivers who are now using android to track passengers who want to book a taxi. These drivers are affiliated with the taxi app firm which operates in 17 cities across six countries in Southeast Asia.

Learning the basics on how the system works may be very sophisticated at first for traditionalists, but drivers have realized becoming tech-savvy gives them good business.

In a day, Diapana shares he can book five to 10 passengers during the busy hours. Heavy traffic in cities such as Manila and Cebu makes finding taxis very difficult especially during rush hours. This triggers interest in new mobile-based taxi app services which assure easy and safe cab experience to the riding public.

“Since I used the app, it’s no longer hard for me to look for commuters especially during not rush hours,” the man said in Cebuano in a travel interview inside his taxi.

SAFETY

Raymond Dejan, GrabTaxi Cebu sales and operations manager, said the safety of cab riders is one of the advantages of using the mobile app which gives the driver’s basic information.

“All of the bookings are recorded kung naay reklamo from the passengers, ma-locate namo sa record,” he told The FREEMAN, discussing how the app works and how it helps drivers and the industry. “It’s safe and convenient to the users.”

GrabTaxi, a profit social startup, is operating in the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia where it started in 2012 as MyTeksi. In the Philippines, the app firm is operating in Manila, Cebu and Davao City. The GPS-based booking app was launched in Cebu in July last year. GPS is a space-based satellite navigation system that gives locations and time information in all weather conditions.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The app is free to download and is available for operating systems Android, iOS and Windows. It keeps a track on the locations of the drivers using it and allows users book cabs in minutes.

When a commuter books a cab, the phone shows in real-time the cabs plying the streets within a three-kilometer radius. When booking is made, a notification appears on each driver’s phone and the system chooses the driver nearest to the person looking for cab service.

The app allows the customer to know the driver’s name, plate number, unit and contact options. In the same way, the driver also sees the client’s basic information such as name, e-mail address and phone number.

To make sure of the riders’ safety, Dejan says the online firm requires its taxi companies to meticulously choose the drivers who would use the smartphones and are required to comply some requirements.

In turn, he says good drivers will have more chance of earning good money, allowing them to religiously pay rental fee to their taxi operators.

The official also notes there are at least 8,000 active app users and 1,200 to 1,500 bookings within Metro Cebu are registered each day. During its promo period last year, daily bookings even reached to 8,000.

GrabTaxi has enrolled its registered drivers into microfinancing for them to be able to own a smartphone unit which is very vital to help them locate clients via GoogleMaps, FourSquare or Waze. Most of them pay P50 a week for the phone, payable for 13 months.

HELPING THE INDUSTRY

“In a way, nakatabang gyud ni siya sa transportation industry -- taxi industry. Karon, di na ang drivers mangita og passengers, ang passengers na maoy mangita sa drivers. The drivers no longer have to go around to find passengers,” Dejan explains.

Dejan says GrabTaxi currently has around 800 registered Cebuano drivers who are renting cabs and is connected to around 30 Cebu-based taxi firms as its partners. It competes with Rocket Internet's Easy Taxi and US-based Uber.

FEES

A booking charge of P70 has already been imposed to Manila commuters but Cebu and Davao City have zero booking fee yet. But company officials have considered a P20 to P30 booking rate (on top of the P40 flagdown taxi rate) to be imposed in both cities anytime this year, Dejan reveals.

He says the online firm is essentially on the stage of marketing and is getting fund from a number of foreign investors for its driver loyalty programs, talent acquisition and retention, regional expansion and money resources. “There are many investors coming from US and Australia to finance and support us. Nakita nila nga GrabTaxi helps drivers and operators,” he adds.

But if there is no booking fee yet, how do GrabTaxi drivers earn aside from metered-rate they get? The operations manager said the company grants taxi drivers P30 for every completed booking.

But since the start of the year, driver Diapana says they have already been getting P20 while taxi operators started to get a P5 share for every booking. Drivers claim their money weekly or monthly at the company’s local office. “Pirmero P30 man to ihatag sa mo pero karon P20 na lang kay naa na may share ang operator,” shares Diapana, who rents cab from local operator Seijen Taxi at P1,000 every day.

Diapana, a driver for 12 years now, explains the technology has, in a way, helped him become more advanced in his work.

Ruel Deniega, another driver who talked to The FREEMAN, said he was tapped by another cab app provider but he opted not to.

The 31-year-old man, who has been driving for nine years now, shared he has already established loyal cab clients who just text him whenever his service is needed.

“I’m now contented without the application. If you’re only hardworking and have no vices, you can have bigger take-home pay for your family,” he said in dialect. (FREEMAN)

APP BOOKING CAB CEBU DEJAN DIAPANA DRIVER DRIVERS TAXI
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