As you read this, there might be yet another story about an altercation between a passenger and a taxi driver.

I find this quite startling because back in the day, when I rode taxis to get to and from meetings, I had great experiences traveling around the Metro and even looked forward to picking up some wisdom from my driver’s many stories.

Reports these days are worrying to the riding public as many have expressed their discontent with their taxi experiences on social media, even filing complaints to the LTFRB.

It seems the relationship between driver and passenger has turned toxic, exacerbating the already infuriating issue of Metro Manila traffic.

Frustrated taxi drivers, scraping for sufficient pay, unload their dissatisfaction on passengers and, in turn, passengers become increasingly suspicious and more likely to shift to ride-sharing – the taxi industry’s new archenemy.

However, all is not lost on this front and there are still stories of pleasant cab experiences circulating on the Web. Stories like that of Mr. Eugenio Estrella, a 63-year-old taxi driver who takes any passenger and even refuses tips, has garnered over 100,000 shares on Facebook.

This is in direct contrast to the stories of drivers berating passengers and is, instead, an example of what a Filipino driver could and should be. Well-mannered cab drivers who value their passengers and play by the rules should be the norm rather than the exception.

But a lot of drivers have long been complaining about insufficient income for the amount of time and energy they spend chauffeuring passengers.

They earn their pay through the boundary system with a ‘boundary’ or set quota paid to the taxi company, which ranges from P1,200 to P1,700 every 24 hours depending on the make of their vehicle. On top of this, they also assume the fuel and other daily expenses.

Taxi drivers have no choice but to work for as many hours as they can in a day to shoulder the boundary and gas expenses while still earning enough to sustain their family.

The boundary system has long ruled the Philippine public transport arena – an area in our development that, we all know, leaves much to be desired. Perhaps it is time to rethink the system and introduce effectual reforms.

Today, there is an undercurrent of Filipinos waiting to see change in the industry and are eager to adopt new technologies and systems, even willing to pay a premium for convenience and security.

To improve the Philippine taxi experience and to ensure the security and convenience the riding public is clamoring for, drivers must be offered a fair shake through a fair process.

Finally, with the advent of ridesharing services, we are seeing novel income arrangements as drivers and car-owners utilize profit-sharing or percentage-of-revenue schemes that are favorable to both parties.

Perhaps this is why we see Filipinos gravitating to ridesharing services like Uber and GrabCar; because they offer an innovative system, security, convenience, and satisfaction to passengers while providing a better option for our drivers.

When we look at the rise of new systems to replace the old, there is a period of resistance wherein proponents of the old system fight any form of change.

But through this tension, we can also hope for a period of realization where there is recognition of the need to rid longstanding structures of the pieces that hold it back from keeping relevant with the times.

Maybe with more equitable sharing systems for drivers, the end benefit will be to the riding public – that they can finally enjoy a safe, reliable, and comfortable commuting experience.

First Published on Manila Bulletin

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