The Hailing Apps: Fake news or not?
STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul C. Villarete (The Freeman) - February 13, 2018 - 12:00am

(Part 1)

Nothing has revolutionized urban transportation nowadays as much as the so-called hailing apps -Uber, Lyft, Grab, Hailo, or Easy Taxi, among others. These are generally competing with the traditional taxi services. There are even apps for motorcycles, too -CamGo, Ubermoto, Angkas, etc. These have been received with a wide array of acceptance levels, mostly generally positive, by the riding public, as they offer a safe, easy, and comfortable alternative to other modes of transport as well as a better one versus their taxi counterparts.

But the persistent question often asked is do these new 21st-century smartphone apps address the issue of traffic congestion? A lot of studies have been done to answer this with varying, oftentimes conflicting results. Mostly the divergence rests on the different interpretation of the question -it is not simply asking whether the app(s) are good or bad, on whether they are beneficial or not. Convenience-wise, they're excellent, hands down! But we need to repeat the question -do they mitigate congestion in the metropolis?

To make that differentiation, we need to see all the positive and negative points first, and then we classify these to whether they refer to, and address, congestion or not. Positive views first, the first of which is the issue on utilization of unused transport assets. Before the advent of hailing apps, we have private cars being parked during the day unused, while their owners go about their daily work, say, in offices. The very concept of hailing apps started with the proposition that we can use these private cars for public purposes (like taxis) when the owners do not need them during the day. This improves utilization of car assets.

Secondly, hailing apps offer the convenience of the simplicity of smartphones booking a ride and then waiting for the car to pick you up, instead of running around physically hailing cabs with your hands (often with a shout), while empty cabs may or may not be around you. You can even book while still inside your office. And they pick you up. And you know the fare in advance. And you can pay by credit card with the receipt emailed to you. Nothing gets any more convenient than that. Not now, anyway.

Third, theoretically, vehicles with hailing apps may opt not to cruise around looking for rides -passengers just book them when they want one. Of course, they may just try to position themselves where they think rides abound, but they can opt to just park around and wait. This minimizes the number of vehicles actually on the road at any given time. And lastly, some say these apps decrease car ownership. This may seem far-fetched to me, but, well -they listed this as a bonus. Kuno. I say, "kuno" because I don't see any reason why people who would have wanted cars, won't buy anymore, because they like these apps.

These are the few reasons (the main ones) why hailing apps are good. The negatives will be for our next column.

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