Of all my friends who I’m close to, I can’t recall a single one who didn’t at one point tell me their own version of a taxi horror story that happened to them in real life. While taxis are among the most convenient form of public transportation in Metro Manila, there is always a risk when you ride one. Heck, my fiance rides a taxi almost every night to work, and while she does take precautions like texting me the plate number and such, there is still the possibility of the meter being altered or the driver simply overcharging or pretending he doesn’t have change.
My personal pet peeve are drivers na “nangongontrata”, or force you to agree to a set fare that is usually double what you would usually pay. And the scary part is, that’s not the worst thing that can happen. I don’t mean to generalize all taxis like this, but that’s just the risk we take almost every time we take one.
So when Paul Malicki, Vice President of Business Management for Easy Taxi asked to meet with me, I was intrigued. I had read about a few taxi hailing services before, and to be honest, I would often confuse one for the other. But the thing is, they provide a service and convenience that is sorely needed by people who regularly ride taxis. So when we got to talking about how Easy Taxi planned to make things better for both passengers and drivers, I was all ears.
Easy Taxi has recently marked its 4 months of presence in the Philippines. Simultaneously, the company has announced crossing the threshold of 2 million global downloads and more than 2.5 million rides. Easy Taxi is the world’s largest taxi-hailing mobile application, operating in 17 countries and over 50 cities globally. The application allows users to order taxis and track taxi drivers in real time, with just a few clicks of their laptop, Android phone, iPhone, or Blackberry 10.
What’s unique to Easy Taxi’s operation is the ability to fully localize – or “glocalize” (the portmanteau of the words “global” and “local”) its product. In the Philippines, for example the product managers decided to add a 70PHP booking fee to the regular meter rate in order to motivate the drivers and let them earn extra income – a solution aiming to solve a long-lasting problem in Metro Manila. With its 24/7 customer service and wide network of registered drivers, Easy Taxi ensures that transportation is safe, efficient, and accessible to everyone. The customer service in particular seems to play a much more important role comparing to other countries in which the company operates. To decrease passengers’ waiting time in locations where there are high demands for taxis, the new “tip driver” feature was added to motivate drivers to prioritize Easy Taxi users. This feature also allows passengers to bid for the nearest taxi and skip waiting for the next available cab.
In an effort to improve the mobile application for the Philippine market, Easy Taxi addressed user feedbacks regarding the lack of available taxis, especially during rush hours. To solve this, the mobile application now has a “enter destination” feature that allows drivers to choose the most convenient locations right away. Before this feature was added, only the pick-up location was required from passengers.
Easy Taxi partners with many local companies, including bars, BPOs, and restaurants, offering them their desktop solution, which allows for more than 5 passengers to be booked at the same time. Furthermore, every Tuesday and Thursday it is present in Draft Gastropub, treating the guests who downloaded the app with free shots – maybe I should head down there one of these days 😛
On the top of the standard features, an app allows the user to use the same local version in other countries without any additional modifications. This is especially convenient for tourists and frequent travelers in Asia, since the same application can be used in many cities like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea. And the list of supported cities continues to grow.
The company started in Brazil in 2011 but has a local advocacy of improving the image of the Philippine transportation industry as safe, modern, and efficient. Since its launch in Manila four months ago, Easy Taxi has been reaching out to taxi drivers through various educational and recreational activities. Just this October, Easy Taxi organized a basketball game for taxi drivers with professional players from the Philippine Basketball Association.
The company also provides drivers with smartphones and teaches them how to use GPS to locate passengers. Even the business model has been modified to be driver-friendly. In the Philippines for example, passengers pay the booking fee of 70PHP per taxi, while in other countries, taxi drivers shoulder reservation costs. This is a big help to drivers who normally just rent their taxi units. After all, “A happy driver equals a happy customer” is the philosophy of Easy Taxi. Speaking of keeping taxi drivers happy, check out the video below to learn just how the guys from Easy Taxi are going the extra mile to do just that.
This month, Easy Taxi partnered with another taxi fleet to expand its network of trustworthy drivers, which I’m told is one of their biggest fleet partnerships yet. As part of its advocacy, Easy Taxi only partners with reputable companies and hires drivers with excellent track records.
To be honest, I think what Easy Taxi is doing for both passengers and taxi drivers is a great thing and I see myself using it during rush hour or at least past 11pm at night when I might get robbed or worse if I tried hailing a cab myself. I’ve also used it a couple of times when I had to attend events where I wasn’t familiar with the best spots to hail a taxi. Want to learn more about them and how to get safe and efficient transportation? Visit www.facebook.com/easytaxiph and follow ET’s new Twitter account at @easytaxipinoy.