Can’t Win Right Now
By Tim Henares
It must be difficult to be an honest cab driver right now, especially when you find yourself painted with the same brush as your katana-wielding, sleep-spraying, biglang-sakay counterparts. In the middle of this drama between taxi drivers and Grab/Uber, we end up judging both sides too hastily.
Truth be told, while we can debate the merits of Uber and Grab and whether or not their practices are truly evil, as they are generally regarded in other countries, and while we can engage in a discussion about privilege and the fact that a vast majority of Filipinos will never even consider hiring a taxi, much less Grab or Uber when all they can afford is a bus or jeepney, we fail to consider why so many of the practices we hate about cabbies flourish in the first place.
Without condoning any of these horrible practices, here are 8 things most of us don’t realize about taxis…
8. They jumped through a lot of hoops, and then nothing.
That LTFRB accreditation process is anything but easy. Most estimates suggest that the costs of getting one would unofficially total around 100,000 or so, and with an estimated 50,000 or so vehicles from Grab and Uber that do not have this accreditation, you’re talking 5 Billion Pesos of lost revenue for the franchising board. Unofficially.
Taxis jumped through this red tape, and yet, afterwards, nothing. No additional accountability, no special privileges, no nothing. You would think that being accredited by the LTFRB means that you are held to a higher standard and you would be well-supervised, but no, that’s not what happens.
This is the equivalent of being given a diploma for paying your tuition but not really learning a single thing, and the LTFRB cannot be held blameless for this negligence on follow-up, when Grab and Uber clearly have mastered the art of policing their own ranks, as it stands.
7. Their non-NCR counterparts clearly figured things out.
Whether due to lack of traffic (not true in the case of Cebu or Baguio), or simply better local law enforcement, you can see that cabs in, say, Cebu, Davao, or Baguio are considered safe modes of transportation. It only stands to reason that something about the system is broken here in NCR, and whatever that is simply makes it almost a necessity for a good chunk of cab drivers to be the way they notoriously are. What exactly are they doing right there that we keep getting wrong here?
6. They are not called industry disruptors for nothing.
While we want people to adapt to the times or simply go the way of the dodo, it becomes harder to consider when that means people losing work and having no money to feed their families. Driving a taxi is not an easy job, and it’s not like cab drivers are given the power to adapt to compete with their Grab or Uber counterparts, unless they also own the cab they drive (more on that later). More often than not, that power is in the hands of the taxi operators.
5. There is no incentive for good behavior.
Doing the right thing is a thankless job. How many nice cab drivers have we met who are courteous, kind, never refuse a fare, give exact change, yet simply never get tipped precisely because they’re “good people?” I’m sure most of us would have wanted to tip these heavensent cabbies, but really, if we’re taking a cab in the middle of the night after a night out of drinking, do we have a spare 50 or 100 to just hand over as thanks? Probably not.
After all, when we do our job, none of us expect to be given a bonus, right? Well, outside of taking your fare on and dropping you off safe and sound and giving you your proper change, all that niceness was value added, but we tend to just brush that off.
Again, this doesn’t justify cab drivers being rotten and sullen and believing they are entitled to fleecing passengers of their hard-earned money. But if being on their best behavior doesn’t even merit recognition from us, then why bother, when, again, the people supposed to keep an eye on them (read: the LTFRB) are clearly not doing their job?!?