Coming soon: Taxis hailed via mobile app

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2017 10:28 AM | Updated as of Aug 17 2017 02:38 PM

MANILA - Commuters in Metro Manila can soon hail regular metered taxis through a mobile app like those offered by ride-sharing networks Uber and Grab, a transport group said Wednesday.

In about a month and half, the Philippine National Taxi Operators (PNTOA) will launch the "MiCab" application through which commuters may book rides, said association president Atty. Bong Suntay.

Suntay said PNTOA has also sought the government's permission to use an upfront pricing scheme that shows passengers the exact cost of their trips before booking a ride.

"Ang proposal namin sa LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board), 'pag street-hailed, pinara sa kalsada, metro ang tatakbo," Suntay told DZMM.

"Pero kapag app-hailed, kung papayag sila, fixed pricing -- iyung parang ginagawa ngayon sa Japan para alam na ng pasahero kung magkano ang total fare, whether humaba ang ruta na kinuha o naipit sa traffic."

(In our proposal before the LTFRB, street-hailed taxis would base the fare on regular meters while app-hailed cabs would use fixed pricing. This is similar to the system in Japan so passengers could know their total fare, which would remain fixed even if the cab will take a longer route or will be stuck in traffic.)

PNTOA, which supervises 12,000 of the total 42,000 taxi units nationwide, launched the MiCab app in Cebu and Iloilo last July, said Suntay.

Taxis, often accused of overcharging fares or refusing passengers, have been in fierce competition with Uber and Grab, which employ dynamic fare pricing schemes and let commuters hail rides from their mobile phones.

Both ride-sharing firms, however, have wrangled with the LTFRB over the scope of regulation on their services, sparking separate investigations by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The LTFRB earlier fined Uber and Grab P5 million each for supposedly operating some 50,000 vehicles without proper permits.

The agency on Monday also suspended the operations of Uber for 1 month over its alleged defiance of a moratorium on accepting new drivers.