In the wake of the sanctions being levied on ride-sharing apps – the most recent of which involved Uber’s suspension for a month – people are looking for alternatives that allow them to travel the metro in relative safety and security.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)[1] has proposed that the majority instead rely on already available methods of transportation, such as the LRT/MRT, PUVs, and Taxis to get around. Taxi operators and the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA) have been at the forefront of the argument to prevent Transport Network Companies (TNCs) like Grab and Uber from taking away their business.

Apps for taxis

Uber may have been suspended, but Grab continues to operate in the country, though trying to get one at the moment can be twice as difficult, and twice as pricey. Apps to call a taxi cab have been made available before – such as Easy Taxi, and MGE’s own app.

Read more: How Safe Is it to Ride with Grab in the New Normal?

Both were met with limited success – the former has since pulled operations in the country, the latter was eventually phased out in favor of the company’s call-a-cab hotline

MiCab[2], on the other hand, is a mobile app that works similarly to ride-sharing apps like Uber and Grab, but for Taxis. Its founder, Eddie Ybanez, started the app in Cebu in 2013 and since then expanded to Iloilo before formally signing an operations agreement with the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA) and the Association of Taxi Operators in Metro Manila (ATOMM).

The differences

MiCab’s senior adviser David Varcher has touted that unlike its competitors, they do not add more vehicles to the already horrible traffic conditions in the metro, but instead use existing taxi companies.

The company thus far has assured users that they will only partner with ‘premium’ taxi services in Metro Manila to ensure the relative safety and security of passengers. The app itself has several features familiar to the commuter, the map, the ability to have yourself picked up at your chosen location. But the similarities end there.

Unlike GrabTaxi – its most direct competition – users won’t be able to see how much their total fare will cost them, though the company has said that the booking fee is Php 50 and will largely go to the taxi driver and operator. PNOTA’s president, Atty. Bong Suntay has also stated that the fixed total fare pricing scheme for MiCab remains under discussion with the LTFRB.

They have also stated that MiCab won’t have a surge pricing scheme, which has been a complaint by the general public for some time.

A function that’s unique to MiCab – or at least a planned function – is a “panic” button. It functions in a way that allows users to use the app to alert people of a threat or if they feel that they are in danger. Varcher was quoted by Business Mirror saying “Taking cab rides need not be worrisome during peak hours because there are no surge fares. Women passengers at any time of the day, and especially at night, will be safe taking a taxi ride back home.”

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Final Thoughts

The app itself has been met with plenty of negative feedback, all visible on its Google Play store page. Most users have complaints of the app being slow or unresponsive, or that taxi drivers continue to ask for money on top of the fare and booking fee because of traffic.

Suntay – in a meeting with the LTFRB[3] – has likened said tactic to surge pricing, effectively making taxis similar enough to Grab and Uber, and further went on to state that drivers rejecting passengers is a reality that commuters have to face, not that he condones it.

MiCab has potential, but there are far too many things that need to be fixed on all sides – in terms of pricing, the quality of cars, and drivers. The reality of it is that commuting continues to be an issue for everyone in the greater metropolitan areas of Manila, and one that won’t be solved so easily.

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