Third world transportation

Uber or Lyft?

Uber. It’s like a limo ride with just a hint of kidnapping.

  • Jimmy Kimmel, Vanity Fair October 2015

The global franchise has since inspired similar ventures. In Baguio City, it’s Grab. The service was made locally available sometime last year. With it came the first noticeable change in the CBD- there were no waiting taxis or vacant taxis at stands. Where were they?

With the advent of in-demand transport, taxis are not anymore incentivized to queue at taxi stands. They’re picking up commuters right at their doorsteps – many of whom are call center agents who own the latest smartphones therefore Grab app users – around the City. It’s a response to the commuting public need for convenient and quality ride.

There is always displacement though in this case a result of the innovation, and they are the elderly, senior citizens. I realized this observing an elderly couple who had been waiting like for eternity at a stand. They were loudly wondering where the taxis were. It was late and they looked frazzled. Apparently they haven’t heard about Grab yet. Plus this population group normally does not own smartphones and without this they won’t be able to avail of the service. Same for others without such a gadget.

Quality. Grab taxis charge additional PHP50.00 on top of the metered amount, for the use of the franchise. To me, this is fair but for the poor quality.

One, the vehicle itself. Many affiliated taxis in the City don’t meet brand expectations. They’re no different from ordinary taxis. I expect Grab vehicles to be more like these fleet abroad which clearly communicate the promise and prestige of the global brand.

Grab taxi

Grab taxi

Two, the drivers. They’re no different from “ordinary” taxi drivers. One wonders what is the Grab experience? As it is, the service is othing out of the ordinary.

Consequentially you ask yourself why would I pay the PHP50 premium? It’s a rip off as it is. The local Grab franchise obviously has the most to gain from it.

Such is the bane of Filipinos in the Philippines- they’re made to endure, for lack of alternative choice, crap products and services (bolstered by millions in marketing hype) This persistent practice of the local business community is indicative of this community’s attitude toward local consumers – “let them eat cake!” – as well as failure of market based and government mechanisms to regulate that side of business.

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