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A Thank You Note to Grab and Uber

This is not a post that demonizes the LTFRB. This is not a post that presents legal/expert opinion on why these transport networks should continue to exist in the Philippines. This is simply my personal thank you note to the men and women behind Grab and Uber - from the people who make sure the app works and evolves into something better everyday, to the car owners who share their vehicles with the riding public, and the drivers who ply the roads every day and night.
Two weeks ago, I was trapped by a sudden heavy downpour in Makati. Bad weather happens all the time, no big deal —  except it was a Friday night and I was already out of our office building. If this happened years ago, I could have no other option but to join all the other stranded passengers at the bus stops, or try my luck at the very crowded MRT. I have experienced both - me waiting at the Megamall Bus Bay until 2:30 am (with some women still in their work uniforms already sleeping on the pavement) and pushing myself against other exhausted, sweaty, hungry, and irritable bodies in spiralling lines at MRT Ayala Station. Luckily for me, it’s 2017 and I was able to book a car, pooling with another soaking wet rider who, like me was thankful that an efficient transport service exists to help people get home quickly and safely.

I am a fan, supporter and believer of services like Grab and Uber, not just for selfish reasons. I see how they effectively respond to the needs of people I know - friends, co-workers, and most especially, family. My parents, who are senior citizens, frequently leave the province to visit us here in Manila, and they always dread that the first people they deal with upon arrival are taxi drivers who see probinsyanos like us as people they can easily take advantage of.  Thanks to Grab and Uber, they no longer have to be forced into the poorly maintained cabs with rude drivers who insist on them paying fixed fares or adding extra. Thanks to Grab and Uber, they no longer have to repeat that experience at the airport when they had to stand in line for an hour just to get an airport cab. Grab and Uber just makes it easier for people like my elderly parents to still be able to go to the hospital, to the mall, and other places, without the fear of being treated like an inconvenience by drivers who seem to blame us for everything from the traffic situation to our inability to give them the most ideal route.

Aside from the convenience and efficiency that services like Grab and Uber bring, I like that these companies have built a community of car owners/drivers and riders with a culture that encourages to treat each other with courtesy and respect. I like that I no longer subject myself to literally chasing after cabs, only to be rejected by the drivers once I tell them my destination (I can book a ride for my brother and his entire family from Pasay to Fairview, with no questions asked, no haggling and pleading). No more drivers becoming combative and defensive when you ask for your receipt and change that’s rightfully yours. No more waiting for LTFRB hearings when you complain about an incident.

Having said all these, I understand than not everyone can easily avail of the services that Grab and Uber offer. That is why, a call for better public transport system should not exclusively be a call to protect the Grabs and Ubers of the world - but a call to improve all public transport services. If there’s something that Grab and Uber have done - it’s to show that it can be done. We can actually have public transportation that works - a system that’s usable, reliable, and more importantly, a system that gets you to your destination, with your dignity intact.