The Wheel and Axle

Tone Deaf

by on Aug.30, 2017, under My Life, Society

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So as of yesterday afternoon, Uber Philippines is back in business, having succumbed to the extortion of the LTFRB.

As a follow-up to the ongoing TNV saga, here we have the Spectacular Shriveled Man of the LTFRB showing just how truly tone deaf he is.

It is appalling how, even when evidence is clearly in front of him, he refuses to acknowledge the true problems with the current transportation system (specifically taxis) and comes up with either stupid excuses or else hare-brained faux solutions.

Let’s take him down point by point.

1. Yes, Uber and Grab do have surges where prices spike. This is somewhat similar to the padagdag of tax drivers – but still not quite so.

The difference is just that: surges. Meaning, prices surge only during specific and objective circumstances using objective and standardized algorithms. Any surge is also clear and upfront and not subject to the whims of the driver.

Moreover, just as they can reject taxi drivers who ask for dagdag, riders can opt to not hire a TNV during surges by waiting it out. They do not get stressed from haggling with rude taxi drivers.

This surge system is not the truly same as taxi drivers who ask for additional fare almost 24/7 and without any algorithm or mathematical standards that make sense. Moreover, they rudely refuse to convey passengers who do not want to pay exorbitant add-ons, and the haggling process can be stressful.

It’s also worth noting that, when passengers agree to surging fares for Uber and Grab, they at least know they will get quality service and quality rides for that amount. Contrast that to many taxis which are old, decrepit, and smelly and whose drivers are cranky, sleepy, or have no concept of traffic rules.

2. The Spectacular Shriveled Man is correct regarding other cities like Davao. While so far I have not been to Davao, I can attest that Baguio has more disciplined and kind taxi drivers. I particularly like it when a Baguio taxi driver insists that I take my two-peso change even if I say he can keep it as tip.

So yes, this may be a Manila problem, but it is not up to the riding public to change the behaviors of the drivers. This is up to the drivers and their operators to change themselves. “Assert yourselves” will no longer work at this point in time when the Manila taxi driver culture has gone out of control. Such a cultural change cannot be easily imposed upon drivers who don’t give a shit or, worse, could cause physical harm to passengers.

3. Uber and Grab are more convenient when it comes to reporting bad drivers because they have their own internal rating system. Uber and Grab discipline their own partners without riders having to go to the LTFRB and go to time-consuming hearings.

When it comes to taxis, reporting to the operator is generally useless as they rarely do anything, so the solution is to report them to the LTFRB. However, reporting to the LTFRB entails too much red tape and time, including a requirement to go to hearings. Who wants to waste time going to a hearing in some far-off city over a 100 pesos padagdag issue or because of one driver who was being a total arse?

Meanwhile, Uber and Grab use app-based driver rating systems that help weed out bad drivers over a sustained amount of time. This is also fair for the driver as he/she would not necessarily get removed for just one instance of bad service; it opens up the opportunity to improve first before, when already truly necessary, getting kicked off the platform.

Oh, and yeah: Uber also has a rider rating system, making it a two-way feedback process that allows both rider and driver to be assessed. Grab does not have this feature right now.

Over-all, the Spectacular Shriveled Man is significantly out of touch with reality, even when presented with facts. It’s time people upstairs review if this man, along with his sidekick Nostril Girl, is fit to be in this position.

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