LTFRB to Grab: Remove feature showing passengers' destination
MANILA, Philippines – Following complaints against picky drivers of transport company GrabTaxi, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has ordered the app-based service to remove the feature allowing drivers to see passengers' destinations before accepting a booking.
Unlike similar app-based service Uber, passengers using GrabTaxi will need to specify their destination to get a ride. The system will then send a notification informing nearby drivers of the booking request.
But this feature allows drivers to decide whether or not to pick up the passenger based on his or her destination, LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez said.
The LTFRB board met with representatives of transportation network companies Uber and GrabTaxi on Friday, September 18, after complaints against GrabCar – a private car service also under Grabtaxi – went viral last week.
Thousands of commuters were left stranded after a heavy downpour Tuesday night, forcing some to walk home due to the traffic gridlock.
On social media, some commuters posted photos of their failed attempts to get a ride through GrabCar. They complained that none of the drivers shown as "available" in the app were accepting their booking requests.
Several users also complained that they had to offer hefty tips before they were able to get a ride through the app-based service.
GrabTaxi has since apologized to its passengers, and said the company is looking into new ways to improve their services.
At the LTFRB meeting, GrabCar Philippines head Natasha Bautista responded to complaints on the availability of nearby drivers when a passenger makes a booking request.
While the app may show that there are dozens of available GrabCar drivers nearby, Bautista explained that not all of those units are available for the requesting passenger.
"The perception of the passenger is that there's one passenger and many drivers around. But what's really happening, when you look at the system, is that there are maybe around 200 passengers and 100 available drivers. It's not one is to 100," she said.
Bautista added that some of their GrabTaxi units, who are also authorized to function as "regular" taxis, may show up as available on the app, but may already be carrying passengers who hail them from the streets.
Tips as bribes?
Last week, former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority "traffic czar" Yves Gonzalez also called out GrabTaxi over its abusive drivers who wait for big tips before picking up passengers.
Gonzalez said desperate passengers are forced to offer big tips – which Gonzalez preferred to call "bribes" – just to get a ride home.
"Pesos are lost as the current mentality of a lot of the drivers is to wait for a big fat 'tip' to be inputted by the rider, who out of desperation to get a ride will succumb to the broken system and offer this 'tip.' The system has made a mockery of the traditional definition of a tip, which is something given after a job or service is well rendered," he said.
But Bautista clarified that GrabCar drivers do not see the tips offered by passengers.
"Drivers can't see the tips, so we can't say that the drivers only accept if they see the tips. We took out that feature since July," she said.
Bautista added that the company is also planning to remove the tip function from the app. – with reports from David Lozada/Rappler.com