Road revolution: How Filipinos commute with tech

Jules Matabuena
Road revolution: How Filipinos commute with tech
Technology has revolutionized road travel in the metro, making our everyday commute a little bit more bearable

MANILA, Philippines – Traffic in Metro Manila is the bane of every commuter’s existence.

On average, we spend so much time on the road – around 6 hours a day, to be exact – that could have been spent resting, being with family, or doing something more productive.

But there’s only so much we can do while we wait for a solution to worsening traffic conditions. Fixing the problem requires transforming the public transport system through consolidated, long-term efforts. (READ: With emergency powers, lighter Metro Manila traffic by 2019)

In the meantime, smartphones and apps have become travel necessities. They not only help us while away the hours on the road but also make our general commuting life safer and more convenient.

Democratizing access to transportation

Not too long ago, commuters had to rely exclusively on taking multiple modes of transportation, or aspiring to buy their own vehicles if they wanted full control of their rides. These options can be time-consuming and expensive.

On bad days, say, the evening rush hour made even worse by a sudden downpour, one can spend hours on the road just driving or trying to get a ride.

Today’s technology has made it possible for reliable transportation options in the city to be more accessible for anybody, anywhere at just a tap of a smartphone.

Thus, Filipinos have embraced ridesharing services such as Uber, which offer easy access to rides, with the safety, reliability, and convenience that private cars offer (without actually having to acquire one). It’s especially useful for those who live in areas that aren’t along routes of major public transport options.

Many have become so reliant on the app, especially since unlike other ridesharing services, Uber doesn’t reveal trip destinations or travel time to drivers before pick-up. This ensures that all riders have equal access to the service.

Rappler and Uber Philippines launched the #BeforeUBER campaign last June 21 to crowdsource stories about commuting life before the app arrived in the Philippines four years ago. 

Uber riders and partners (as passengers and drivers are called) were eager to share their stories. The hashtag trended 2nd in the Philippines an hour after the launch.

Why has Uber been so successful? It gives commuters a safe, convenient, and comfortable ride. For many of its users, the ride hailing app has come to mean more than just a way to get around.

Working students or employees now have a chance to be more efficient and productive, to look more presentable when they arrive at work or school, or to get a little shut-eye even as they go through the inevitable traffic.

At best, a simple ride can even end up changing one’s perspective as riders and partners end up sharing personal stories during the trip.

Even existing car owners benefit from Uber, too, as it eases their worries of a perennial problem: finding parking space at establishments and other places.

Commuting around the Metro is notoriously difficult, but when we embrace technology and use it to our advantage, we can make it more bearable and less of an inconvenience.

How about you? How do you combat Metro Manila traffic through your smartphone? Do you still remember what your life was like #BeforeUBER? – 

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