App review: GrabTaxi Manila

Update: This post was written in April 2014. Since Uber was introduced in the Philippines, I’ve been a fan and I never had to use GrabTaxi. I hate taxi drivers who choose passengers, which a lot of GrabTaxi/GrabCar drivers are. I also dislike the idea of having to bribe drivers in the form of tips–if anything, GrabTaxi is just another way of institutionalizing what’s wrong with regular taxis in the first place.
* * * * 
For the first time in my life, a cab driver offers his salutations

I hadn’t planned on booking a taxi to go to the airport; after all, it was around 2 a.m. and so getting one shouldn’t be a problem. However, by the time I showered; put on clothes; took them off; put something else on; blow dried my hair; double-checked my passport, airline tickets, and hotel reservation; and zipped up my luggage, more than an hour had lapsed—I didn’t want to take my chance waiting for a cab.

And so I launched my GrabTaxi app. Here’s how you do it:

Screenshots from GrabTaxi Manila

There were dozens of cab in my area but they were minutes away from me—I didn’t want to haul my luggage through the streets at the dead of night. And so using the app, I entered my destination but I had a problem with my pick-up point: I wasn’t ‘pinned’ to my exact location on the map and I couldn’t drag it to where I was. (If this is in fact possible to do, then there was no user-friendly way of knowing so because I tried every possible option there was.) Running out of time, I decided to instead, add further instructions to the driver on the space provided. (Texting the driver was not an option for the safety of the driver.)

Based on the graphics—you can see the cab’s icon move toward you—as well as the app’s calculation of the taxi’s arrival time, I had about 10 minutes. Later, and to my horror, I saw that the cab missed my house and moved further away—it was going toward the default location set by the pin. And so I had to leave the house, call the driver, and wait on the sidewalk.

I didn’t have to stand too long (though I imagine this could have been a huge issue if there was traffic or if the road was one-way only).

The moment I entered the cab, I was completely surprised by what the driver said:

“Good evening, sir!”

No local cab driver has ever done that to me before. It struck me how it had become such a novelty, in a city where the cab drivers rarely say ‘thank you’ for receiving a tip. (Though in these parts, a tip is not given by the passenger, it is taken from them by default. Drivers generally don’t make an effort to give small change.)

The driver, Reyne, explained that he read my other instructions a tad late, but I didn’t mind; I liked him already. At the same time, the app also emailed me the details of my ride: time of pick-up, pick-up place, estimated fare, and distance, as well as the full name of the driver, plate number, and his mobile number. On top of those, you may also share details of your journey on social media, though I opted out of it as I felt safe anyway.

Aside from being pleasant and courteous, Reyne also respected my silence. He drove fast and steadily—we arrived at the airport way earlier than I planned.

But I had another test for Reyne: Globe Telecoms was running a promo of Php0 booking fee on weekends from January 25  to Feb 23. It was February 22. Normally, the booking fee, which is added on top of your regular fare, is Php50 for Globe subscribers and Php70 for the rest. (Currently, those in Cebu are enjoying the Php0 booking promo but I’m not sure until when.) I wanted Reyne to inform me about the waived fee himself—I figured a month into the promo, he already knew about this.

He did not 🙂 . I would have had no problems bringing this up myself but I was happy with his service so I didn’t mind giving it to him as a tip and to save his pride.

He said thanks.

 * * * *

Overall, I like the app’s efficiency and reliability; I also give GrabTaxi credit for having been able to work with several taxi fleets, and I assume, for training the drivers on courtesy and road etiquette. However,  I find the booking fee prohibitive so I’ll only use this for special situations.

For more details, visit GrabTaxi Manila.


One thought on “App review: GrabTaxi Manila

  1. Zombree says:

    Thank you for this post. I will have an early flight and will be needing a taxi at 2am to the airport. As a single female traveller I feel a little nervous travelling so early/late at night. I was looking to see if grabtaxi was safe.


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