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Live from Manila: Road Battle

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Here is a short horror story: the MRT isn’t working, the LRT is jam packed, the Shuttleservice has a long line, then you decide to get a cab but you can’t because he’s picky and you’re late for your appointment. This is the horror that most of us dread everyday.

With a very disappointing mass transportation service like this, it’s just unbelievable how resilient each Filipino is. We accept that it would take at least 2 hours to go from home to work or school and vice versa.Wow, no wonder the road is getting wilder by the day.uber1

Travel Anatomy

If you think about it, that’s 4 hours everyday multiplied by 6 working days; that will give you 24 hours a week. 24 hours a week multiplied by 4 weeks results to 96 hours a month. And, if you multiply 96 hours a month with 12 months, it will give you a grand total of 1,152 hours a year of wasted travel time!

 

4 hours x 6 working days

= 24 hours/week

24 hours x 4 weeks

= 96 hours/month

96 hours x 12 months

= 1,152 hours/year

Hours Spent in Travel

 

Let’s break down the anatomy of 4 hours:1. Malfunctioning LRT/MRT trains (the aircon isn’t working, no power or it’s stuck, etc.) 2. The all new beep card reader doesn’t read (go figure) 3. “Crowd Control” or as the train officials explain: “panandalian naming ihihinto ang pagbebenta ng beep card dahil puno na ang platform area” or in English: we will temporarily suspend the selling of beep cards because the platform area is already full. In simpler terms: they can’t accommodate the crowd. 4. Shuttle service has a long line 5. “Picky cab drivers”. It’s every man for himself. Now, wouldn’t you just want to have a car at your beck and call? Taking our faulty mass transportation system aside, our picky cab drivers problem is mirrored by other countries as well, particularly in New York and San Francisco U. S. A. And addressing this problem sparked the idea of Travis Kalanick and Garret Camp to start Uber.

Uber Background

Entrepreneurs Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had recently sold their tech startups and were hanging out at the annual LeWeb conference in Paris when they started brainstorming for new ideas.

Camp lamented the lack of available taxis back home in San Francisco and suggested sharing a car and driver the two entrepreneurs could reach, via an app, for on-demand rides. A few months later he developed a prototype that could be used more broadly.

By mid-2009, Camp convinced Kalanick to partner with him, and early the next year 2010, UberCab made a few test runs in New York. That May, Uber launched in San Francisco, and within five years expanded to 58 countries and nearly 280 cities worldwide.

Uber Experience

I was in California last October 2014 when I first tried Uber. It’s a mobile app that is downloaded in the Android or iOS app store. Fill in your details along with your credit card number and you’re good to go. With an ultra-fast internet speed in the US, the app runs smooth and easy. Locating you as a passenger is accurate as well as the map installed is detailed.

You can also choose from a variety of Uber from their affordable UberX, UberTAXI, UberBLACK, UberSUV to the pricey UberLUX. All of which are available to fit your budget, number of companions and most of all style. Being picked up by a Buick, Ford, Nissan, Isuzu or an Audi is all up to you. Of course being strict on a budget and for having this peso-dollar conversion syndrome, I hailed the UberX to move around town.

Riding in an Uber abroad is different compared to ours because the driver will not speak unless spoken to. There is a whiff of “business as usual” when you get in until you reach your destination. They will even turn off the radio when you get in so as not to bother you with their choice of music, not unless you permit them to continue. With the stillness inside, all you have is the scenery to appreciate. Not to mention the smooth drive as the road is not riddled with holes.

While Uber is extremely efficient, it’s a different story in Manila since this is a mobile app that relies heavily in ultra-fast wifi. In my experience, it would lag especially when the app is trying to locate you due to the slow internet connection that we have. Other than that, the ride is pretty normal with the driver being polite with their small talk and sometimes heavy traffic sentiments.

I think that the key take away from Uber is that it lessens the factors that contribute to wasted travel hours. Imagine if we could cut 1,152 hours per year spent in travel in half then we can allocate 576 hours to a productive matter, family time or rest.

On a side note: While some argue that Uber is a threat because it’s functioning like a cab without the necessary permits, I say it’s a matter of perspective. Again, Uber started as a way to address the picky cab driver problem. In reality the cab operators see it as a threat because they see Uber as competition which will lessen their target market. But on a client’s perspective, it’s a welcome alternative to the usual transportation options. This is a free market and it’s the people who get to decide which one they want to spend on. Besides, there wouldn’t be an Uber if the cabs were reliable to begin with. And I will stop before I start sharing my-horrifying-cab-extortion stories. So how was your Uber experience? Share it at http://www.facebook.com/manilabulletintechlifestyle and Twitter @mbtechlifestyle with the hash tag #MBTechlifestyleUberExperience #BeFullyInformed