A TAXI hailing application comparable to existing Transport Network Companies (TNC) is set to be launched in the city this December.

This after a Memorandum of Agreement was signed on Monday between the Transwealth Fleet Management Corporation and the Metro Davao Taxi Operators to give way for a two-week test of the taxi hailing application to 50 taxis within the city.

Metro Davao Taxi Operators Association Inc. president Rogelio T. Largo, in a press conference last Monday, said that as stated with the MOA, they will come up with a proof of concept, and a test run of the system will be put up to a test.

"We will be getting feedback from taxi drivers, from the passengers we will do that in two weeks’ time after this meeting," he said.

"The developer will also listen to us, hear our suggestion, comments from driver and from operators so that what we will have an effective mobile application that is suitable to the demands of Davao," Largo said.

Largo said that they come up with the idea so that the services of the taxi units in Davao will be comparable and be much better than Uber and Grab.

"We are going to that direction through the signing of the agreement," Largo said.

TFMC president Fransisco Mauricio, for his part, said that the innovation on the taxi system in Davao is eyed to become one of the best practices of the city.

Largo said that through the new application, they seek to stop the practice of refusing passengers because the driver would know the destination of the passenger only upon the start of the trip.

He said that it will also curb the illegal practice of "overcharging, or contracting for the fixed rate" or reckless driving because the details of the taxi unit are recorded in the smartphone of the passenger and the erring driver can be easily reported to the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

"Later as LTFRB will consider, the rate will be fixed at the start of trip unlike now that the rate will be determined at the end of the trip. It is possible with the new formula," Largo said.

He added that the application will improve the grooming and driving behavior of the drivers and condition/maintenance of taxi units because of the rating system. Unit/drivers with low rating will less likely be booked because the passengers may not choose them and the system will give preference to units/drivers with high ratings.

The application will also allow the recording of the driver's details on the phone of the passengers which is set to eliminate the crimes such as hold up. It will also enable relatives of passengers to monitor taxi units, thus, eliminate incidents of kidnapping and rape.

"It will also make drivers as agents of government during emergencies (accidents on the road and disaster) as we are looking at the possibility of the system can be linked by 911," he said.

He added that the application also aims to reduce congestion on the streets since the taxi units can park in non-busy areas while waiting for their online booking, adding that the application will also increase the income of the drivers since they will pay less fuel because they will not go around that much.

Largo said that they are looking forward to include taxi operators in the city for this application.

"We are looking at an inclusive approach, and will include as much as all taxi units," he said.

LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra, present during the MOA signing, said that this development for taxi application is a welcome development since it uses technology to the public's advantage. He advised that the said application should be universal and address to all, and that it must have better technical stability which was the previous problem with previous taxi hailing application launched in the city.

Largo assured that the application will cover many taxi drivers so that passengers can ride taxi in shortest possible time to their destination.

He said that their association will avail of the application and their association members compose the 90 percent of the 5,500-5,600 population of taxis in the city.

Mauricio also said that technology wise, the new system can run even against the spotty intermittent and weak signals.

"In terms of user interface from a driver's application perspective, and the passengers perspective it is easy to use simple, it is clean, it’s fast and the user's experience is intuitive madali lang pag-aralan its not really complicated especially if you are a first time user," he said.

He added that they target to make it cost efficient for the passengers.

As to the booking fee, Largo said that they eye to start the use of the application without booking fee.

"At the start we are looking here as no booking fee at the start so the operator will try to absorbed. If along the way there is going to be a booking fee it is going to be minimal, very low, we are looking at the amount P10 per booking. But as we try to introduce the system to the market, the operators will try to absorb booking fee so that people will understand that we are here to use the technology to serve the public better," Largo said.