MANILA, Philippines - In a country where horror stories of taxi rides abound, concerned citizens have launched a new app allowing passengers to report erring taxi drivers.
Taxikick is a free app developed by the two-member Pencil Rocket team.
According to Taxikick’s “About” page, application developers will email the reports they get to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) at the end of each day. They have tried getting in touch with LTFRB and the MMDA but are still waiting for the agencies to reply.
“We sent an email last December 19, 2011. Up until now we’re still trying to communicate with them,” developer Benedict Aluan said in an email interview. “They are going to arrange a feedback mechanism and track response once the agencies have replied," he said.
As of posting time, abs-cbnNEWS.com has not been able to get comments from the official social media accounts of the agencies regarding the web app.
The idea for the app, Aluan said, came while he and a fellow developer were having coffee. “The initial idea was really just to apply our skill in building a web app. Then while talking over coffee, we had this idea for an app that would report abusive taxi drivers to [the] MMDA. I guess we speak for the most of us that abusive taxi drivers are fairly common here in the Philippines.”
Taxikick was named after restaurant Tomatokick, which the developers passed when riding a taxi to Eastwood. “We saw Tomatokick’s sign. At first we wanted to have a name that sounded Pinoy, but we didn’t like any of them,” Aluan said.
The two Pencil Rocket members have been doing projects since they were in college. Taxikick is a pet side project - they work as a web developer and a graphic and web designer during the day.
Taxikick is still in the early stage of beta testing. According to Aluan, while their app is currently designed for mobile web users. Native apps for Android and iOS are forthcoming.
They are also still collecting “overwhelming suggestions” made by users. User response has been building, and may grow as users spread the word over social networks.
As of January 2, Taxikick has received a total of 120 reports, said Aluan. The app was launched on December 19.
So far, one of the most serious reports they got was of a driver's attempted assault of a passenger.
“The taxi driver…attempted to assault me after he started an argument due to the traffic. The incident started when we were along Romualdez St. at the Back of Adamson University. The driver kept complaining about the traffic so I replied back, then he shouted at me saying I go out, then I went out. He followed me and threatened he would hurt me, saying, ‘gusto mo patayin kita?’ then he made me pay his flagdown rate and then he left the place of the incident,” the passenger wrote.
An inquiry made by abs-cbnNEWS.com to the Land Transportation Office's (LTO) plate number information service (send LTO<space>Vehicle<space>plate number to 2600) yielded that the taxi, a white Toyota Vios last registered September 2011, has no LTO apprehensions or alarms on record.
To send a report via the Taxikick app, located at https://www.taxikick.com, users need to enter the plate number of the taxi they are in and specify the violation (which developers have provided via a drop-down menu). Optional information include the taxi name, or name of franchise operator, and comments.
|A screen capture of the Taxikick web application.
In the comments field, users can provide a description of the incident, passenger pick-up point and destination, and other useful information.
Users can also send in their reports via Twitter (@taxikick), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/taxikick), or email (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Developers have received a lot of feedback from users on their Facebook page and via Twitter.
While a lot of users posted positive remarks, some have questions about what results they can get from using the app.
On Facebook, Ding Fuellos aired his concerns based on his “limited paralegal knowledge.”
“Is this site deputized or in partnership with MMDA and LTRFB to make your complain pass for legal action? Are you willing to take a legal action in the first place?” he asked.
“There are no real names of complainants. Are the supposed violations stipulated in the policies of LTFRB for franchising and regulation of taxi cabs? Some people may just be trigger-happy, and click at their whims and caprices.”
Taxikick developers responded in post that “We've already messaged @ltfrb officials, just waiting 4 them to rply. If u personally know some1 hu works there pls inform them about us! :)”
Developers may also do well to tie up with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), said @doblezeta. “I think a formal tie-up between @taxikick and DOTC’s Oplan Isnabero would produce really good results. Same goal: STOP abusive taxi drivers.”
@doblezeta, Yvez Gonzalez, is the MMDA's Twitter Team Head, Director III & Officer in Charge - Traffic Discipline Office.
Under Oplan Isnabero, LTO and LTFRB, in cooperation with DOTC, will randomly patrol main Metro Manila thoroughfares in order to catch taxi drivers who refuse to accept passengers or refuse to use their taxi meters.
The plan was reactivated in November last year.
One Twitter user had an alternate suggestion. “Have you considered developing a tool to commend cab drivers that did more than they were expected to do?” said @emmaruthbeer.