July 26 is going to hit commuters hard, Metro Manila the hardest I imagine. The matter regarding Grab and Uber has been making waves on social media, most especially after the LTFRB's casual statement that taxis, buses and jeepneys are safe. Netizens haven't been shy in voicing out their opinions on this and let's just say that it's not pretty.

(Image credits: Silent No More Facebook Page)

These ride-sharing apps may not be the best solutions to Metro Manila's current transportation problems, but they sure give us commuters a sigh of relief especially when faced with countless numbers of obstacles during rush hour. But, despite public uproar for their necessity, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board continues its crackdown on Grab and Uber.

By July 26, Grab and Uber vehicles that don't have the required Certificates of Public Convenience will be impounded, this is because there's still no efficient system of registration for these new players in the Philippine transport industry. According to a petition by Bobby Coronel, "while [Transportation Network Vehicle Service drivers] all received [their Transport Network Company] accreditation, their applications for Provisional Authority with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) were either not acted upon, or did not make it to the July 21, 2016 cut-off when they suspended all new applications.”

A report by Top Gear Philippines (which you can read here) reveals that sadly around 90% of Grab and Uber drivers don’t have the necessary certificate because the LTFRB decided to stop issuing said documents a year ago. The agency’s reason for this? Colorum or unregistered vehicles aren’t safe for public use.

Grab and Uber in my opinion are way better and safer than other existing public transport vehicles. I know that when my balikbayan mom and sister were home, at different times during the year, they depended on Grab and Uber heavily and were both satisfied with their services. The drivers were ok, the cars were nice and they felt safer than when they took cabs to get around the metro. For added safety precautions, they'd share their ride either through social media or privately to us, to make sure that we knew who the driver was together with other details of the ride. When the car arrives, we don't let my mom or sister go out alone, there's always at least 2 more with her to send her off, look at the vehicle and give the driver a hard look and try to catch his eye too. It's like our way of silently telling him that if anything happens to his passenger, there are witnesses that she got on his car.

Even my husband books a ride on either Grab or Uber when he gets caught in rush hour and jeepneys and buses are packed. He got home whole and safe each and every time. My own experience with Grab and Uber on the rare occasions I do go out were all good as well. On the other hand, when it comes to our usual public transport, that's a whole different matter.

I haven't ridden in a taxi or any form of public transport (jeepney, bus) for a long time since I became a mom of 4. The last time I rode a taxi though was a horrifying experience for a female my size who was alone. I went to Farmer's Market Cubao at around 5am to buy fresh live shrimps (Suahe) as a surprise for my husband who was still peacefully sleeping at home with our daughter (only child back then) tucked in his arms. Carrying a cooler with my money just scattered in various pockets, I hailed a jeep to Cubao. It was pretty fast, but then I always enjoyed riding in a "Hataw" jeep in the morning. 

So, I got the shrimps and some imported produce that were usually only available there, then it was time to head home. I was in a hurry so getting a cab was my only option. I got one pretty quick, but then a creepy feeling came over me immediately, especially when the driver kept talking and talking like we were close friends, his tone was different too. I don't mind conversing with drivers, don't get me wrong, but there was something niggling at the back of my head that didn't make me feel at ease inside that cab. I was only in the taxi for less than 5 minutes and I wanted to get out right away. What pushed me over the edge was when he suddenly suggested that I sit in the front seat next to him since it was just the two of us. He said it was better, so we could talk more properly during the long ride to keep him awake. He slowed down as if to put the car to a stop and kept on pressing me to move to the front, that's when I fabricated a call from a friend telling me that she was in Araneta and that I should just ride with her home. By then, we were almost at SM Cubao and there were guards nearby. So I hurriedly gave him 50 pesos and got out of the vehicle as fast as I could. He really gave me the creeps.

I took a different cab home, with a really old driver who I knew I could take on if he wanted to try anything funny unless, of course, if he was armed. I was mad at this point when I got past the shock and the realization that I could've been put in a seriously bad situation finally sunk in. I wanted to punch the cab driver from before but opted to just stay alert and get safely home, I wasn't out of the woods yet as far as I was concerned.

That night, as I was was browsing on my Facebook newsfeed I saw a post from a female who almost had the same experience I had, but unfortunately she didn't get out of the cab unscathed. Unlike me, this happened at night and she sat in the front immediately, so the driver got a hold of her and things happened. She had to jump off the vehicle while it was still in motion, was injured more and wounded due to that too. It was almost the same exact story, a taxi driver did that. That could've been me...

Back in college I remember witnessing stick ups (which unfortunately still happens to this day) in the jeepney, bus or fx that I was riding. I wasn't ever the sole target, but seeing it up close, a gun or knife pointed at one of the passengers in the same vehicle was still pretty scary. There were also times that I'd get the strong gut feeling that the driver was in on it too. I had money, jewelry, smartphones and a hat taken during those times, I'm just glad we weren't hurt, just winded out from the whole ordeal.

From personal experience and based on what real commuters who have taken jeepneys, buses, taxis to and from work or just to get around for years and now choose the alternative, say, I do believe that Grab and Uber are safer. That's just my two cents on this issue.


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Article published on July 18, 2017

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