In an informal survey conducted by The LaSallian among 53 respondents, 85 percent claim they used popular ride-sharing applications Uber and Grab. Majority of those who did not use the popular applications stated that they had their own cars, while the others found it easier to commute. Meanwhile, 17 percent identify the ride-sharing applications as their main mode of transportation.
Uber, which can be found in 540 cities all over the world, was founded in 2009 by two businessmen, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp. The idea to create such an application materialized after the two had a difficult time hailing a cab one night. Similarly, the idea for Grab came to founders Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling after ranting about the difficulty to hail a cab. Grab caters to a smaller audience and specifically targets Southeast Asian states.
Recently, both transport network companies have come under fire for soaring surcharge prices during peak hours. Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Senate’s public services committee, is set to start a Senate probe into the issue with the possibility of creating guidelines that will help prevent similar experiences in the future.
According to 95 percent of the respondents who claimed that they use either of the applications, the most attractive feature is the convenience they provide. Safety and speed were also prevalent answers. A small portion of the respondents find the prices reasonable, with other respondents identifying high cost as one of the reasons they do not use the applications.
Despite the accusations that Uber and Grab face regarding the unjust surge in prices during peak hours, a number of respondents continue to patronize the applications and find that both offer reasonable prices for their fares. However, most of the respondents prefer using their private cars, commute, or carpool with friends, if given the option.
Moreover, most of the respondents find it convenient to use either application as a mode of transportation, because it makes them feel safer than when they are commuting.
George*, a third year student from the College of Liberal Arts, comments, “There is no harm in using Grab or Uber despite some news circling around about those who are abused by the drivers. I personally feel safe when I use these applications because they provide me with the details that I need to know about my driver.”
“Rude or mean drivers”
Most of the complaints on Uber and Grab were the “rude or mean drivers.” One respondent recalled a harrowing experience with an especially rude driver.
The application failed to notify her that the driver had already arrived at the pick-up area. Once she arrived, the driver yelled and cursed at her for making him wait. She decided to cancel the trip and rebook. Unfortunately, the application matched her to the same driver who yelled and cursed at her again.
Not all negative experiences are limited to such verbal abuses. Instances of a different form of harassment also occur as Luna*, a fourth year student from the School of Economics, elaborates.
During one of her rides, the driver began saying suggestive statements that made her feel uncomfortable. Although she tried to ignore him, he continued to pester her about her private life and her relationship with her companions who were asleep at the back of the car. In the end, nothing happened, but she states, “I shudder to think what else would have happened if I was alone in the car with that driver.” Now, she always makes sure to let people know that she is taking a ride just in case.
On safety concerns
Most of the respondents share they felt safe when using the ride-sharing applications. Since the application monitors the ride and the information can be sent to anyone in the contacts list, riders feel safe knowing that they can let their family and friends track them just in case something happens. Another commendable feature for the users is that all the driver’s information, such as his name, picture, contact detail, car model, and plate number, is given to them prior to entering the car.
The assurance that the drivers are screened and trained helps keep riders at ease. Moreover, since the drivers are rated, riders can be sure that the companies are taking into consideration their concerns. The exclusivity and good customer feedback systems also help users feel safe.
Meanwhile, those who stated that they feel unsafe when using the applications usually identify the concern that they were being driven around by a stranger.
There is still room for improvement for both companies. One of the most common suggestions is to implement stricter background checks with the requirement of psychological and physical tests. Others also suggest better training and routine evaluations for the drivers. Another is the installation of dash cams that would help settle issues and make the riders feel safer.
There are a lot of suggestions as well for a better reporting system. Some claim the feature was not noticeable in the current interface; whereas, others hope for an emergency hotline or button that would immediately send a report to the authorities if someone is being harassed by a driver.
However, not all suggestions are about the drivers. Paolo*, a fifth year student from the Gokongwei College of Engineering, wants an option to report unruly co-riders to help ensure better experiences in the future.
Other than issues about safety, the interface and GPS features are also areas of concern. The tracking feature and convenience would greatly improve if these two were resolved. Respondents also suggest offline accessibility to make them feel safer and let the application be easier to use. Concerns about travel time, fare splitting, and promos are also mentioned.
Overall, it seems like the ride-sharing applications are here to stay. Both applications have even identified themselves as a way to ease traffic congestion, especially in Metro Manila. Although these claims have not been proven, it would be welcomed by the majority, especially if the applications take into consideration the comments and suggestions mentioned.
*Names with asterisks (*) are pseudonyms.