GrabTaxi launches in Cebu

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Thursday, July 3, 2014


THE high volume of cab users in Metro Cebu makes it difficult to find a cab during peak hours. And with rampant reports of crime and bad drivers, there are also fears about choosing the right taxicab.

A company that started in Malaysia believes it has found a solution and has taken it to big cities in Southeast Asia, including Cebu.

GrabTaxi officially launched in Cebu Tuesday, but has been serving the metropolis since March.

GrabTaxi is a mobile app that allows a user to book a cab online. More than that, it provides the user with the driver’s information and has a tracking feature that can be sent to any of the user’s contacts to make the passenger feel safer.

For cab drivers, the app helps them find more passengers faster, rather than just driving around the streets.

GrabTaxi Philippines marketing vice president and assistant general manager Natasha Bautista said their understanding of the Southeast Asian market allowed them to grow quickly in the region.

Problems

It was founded by Anthony Tan and Hooi Ling Tan of Malaysia in July 2011 as a for-profit social startup. Then, it was called MyTeksi and tied up with Maxis Mobile to launch in Klang Valley. It expanded to Malacca in August last year and launched in Manila the same month. In October, it tied up with Globe Telecom and began beta operations in Bangkok, Thailand and Singapore. They are also expanding to Vietnam and Indonesia.

For Bautista, problems like long lines at taxi stands, unfair pricing and unsafe rides, especially during the night, are solved with GrabTaxi.

After downloading the app on a smartphone, the user can immediately ask for a cab service and expect a reply within one minute.

Their system tracks down all units affiliated with GrabTaxi within a three-kilometer radius. Cab drivers have the choice to accept the booking. The system awards the driver nearest to the client and sends the client the driver’s name, unit and plate number, and contact options.

Bautista said Cebu was an ideal choice because it is a top tourist spot and one of the most developed provinces in the country. She also said it has a high penetration of smartphones with data.

GrabTaxi currently has 200 drivers under 20 operators in Cebu.

Cebu sales and operations manager Raymond Dejan said he is proud of Cebuano drivers, calling them some of the most trusted and truthful in the country.

The first drivers were provided with smartphones so they could be affiliated with the service.

While the drivers were recommended by their operators, Dejan said they went the extra mile to ensure the drivers were trustworthy, requiring them to submit barangay clearances, photocopies of their driver’s licenses and sketches leading to their residences.

He added that before leaving the garage, someone from GrabTaxi is there to check if they have their smartphones with them and if they have enough load credits to stay online to accept bookings.

Dejan said drivers are enthusiastic and make efforts to understand how the system works. He added that they even proceed to their office if they find something wrong and find an explanation.

Bookings

Having the GrabTaxi sticker on their units is also a selling point, even if the clients did not book using the app. Dejan noted that passengers flock to the cabs with their stickers because it makes them feel safe.

Eddie Degino, 40, has been with GrabTaxi for a month and only had good things to say about the service.

Aside from getting a brand new Android phone, he is sure to have passengers. Degino was also enterprising, listing down the workers who booked his services and the time they left work. He made sure to be in the vicinity during these times, knowing they would be needing a cab to get home.

Degino said he has made 160 bookings. He believes it saves him time and effort because he no longer has drive around the streets in search of customers. As a bonus, drivers were given a kilo of rice for every passenger booked during the beta stage.

Degino, who has been a cab driver for 22 years, can book seven to 15 passengers a day using the service.

The company is offering micro-financing for drivers who want smartphones to be able to become part of the cab service. They are also giving out free stuff for clients who book using the app.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 04, 2014.

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