I have a car but I don’t drive. And when my driver went on emergency leave for over two weeks, it’s as if I was left with no choice but to commute to Makati daily for work. I live in North Caloocan, way past Fairview and almost bordering San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, that translates to about 3 hours of exhausting commute to and fro. While no cab will agree to take me straight to Makati, why I hop on an aircon bus until I reach a “taxi-friendly” spot, I was glad to have discovered Uber Manila through a friend’s tweet. Eager to try out the ride-sharing service, I downloaded the Uber app, and with the sign up credit of 300 pesos, excitedly requested my first ride. And in less than 5 minutes, I was fetched by a Ford Everest (UberBlack) that got me to my appointment ahead even in rush hour and then a Toyota Vios (UberX) on a sleepy drive to Eastwood City. This cash-less, hassle-free riding experience got me addicted to Uber. Uber is commuting in stylish comfort–there’s this excitement of having to wait or guess what car’s picking you up or riding on a different car every request–and of course the convenience of credit card payment. Compared to taxi apps, Uber turns out to be even more reasonably priced, tipping is not even required. If only Uber’s available where I live, I’d give up my car and not ride a taxi ever again. But then it’s quite understandable that Uber now only serves select areas.
To think that this is not exactly a new service, which has been quietly introduced here almost a year ago, enjoyed by credit-card-toting commuters, even car owners like me, who knew of the service by word of mouth or social media, with the originating company continuing to make headlines in countries that are traditionally taxi-riding, such as ours the Philippines. And last Thursday, social media was abuzz by news of Uber Manila being shut down, as its partner car fell in the first sting operation conducted by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday October 22. [Rappler]
And by Friday, a normally difficult day for commuting, what with the rush hour traffic affecting almost all key business areas in the metro, I was getting worried that I’d be forced to hail a cab, as I was having a hard time requesting an Uber car from afternoon until evening and I couldn’t help but think or suspect that the service must have been suspended, or worst shut down.
But before 9:00pm clocked in, I was able to catch a Vios, that would’ve arrived at my office in 15 minutes, but got lost as our building’s not that easy to find at night, yet it didn’t bother me because the driver has been calling me for directions (who by the way spoke very good and straight English) and was apologizing for the delay. I was just relieved that Uber got stung but not dead.
It was a long ride to Quezon City but my driver and I forgot the time and the traffic having discussed his company’s legal technicality problems with LTFRB. I agree when he said Uber Manila’s here to stay as it addresses or eases the problems faced by commuters every day, which our government unfortunately has been having a hard time solving. Pretty much like how those UV Express FX started out, vehicles thought to be mostly colorum, but now’s even part of the transport service being offered in various malls. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) sided with Uber, advising the LTFRB to “find ways to reasonably assist transport services” but you can’t help but take notice of the clamor of users for the government to simply spare Uber.
Now when or how do I get that MINI Cooper, Uber please.