UNLESS you have four or five cars and a driver at your disposal, you have likely encountered difficulties in hailing cabs. Grumpy drivers and dirty vehicles are only part of the problem. People would rather take the MRT, despite it inconveniences, than place their safety and security at the hands of a taxi driver who isn’t even polite.
This is one of the reasons Eddie Ybanez and Kenneth Baylosis launched Micab in Cebu in 2012.
“Like most Filipinos, I’ve had less than stellar experiences with cabs, and that was indeed one of my main inspirations for founding Micab. As a whole, taxi drivers have not had the same opportunity that other professions may have provided: They don’t have basic training in customer service, for example,” said Ybanez, Micab’s CEO. Baylosis is the chief technology officer.
There are so many horror stories about taxis. Two of my colleagues have been robbed separately at gunpoint while riding taxis. The robbers used the same MO: They took the victims around Metro Manila, making them withdraw money from different ATMs before bringing them to a remote area in northern Metro Manila and leaving them each with P100 to go home.
Uber and Grab have truly given the riding public an better alternative to standing on the street for an hour, praying that one would get a taxi.
Micab aims to be a safe ride-hailing app that’s more affordable and accessible. It’s part of Ybanez’s vision of vision of “Taxi 2.0,” where the taxi-hailing public can seamlessly, easily and quickly connect with cab drivers who are kind, courteous and friendly.
Before a cab driver even becomes eligible to drive on the Micab platform, there are already several measures that have been put in place to help the drivers as customer service professionals.
One of the measures is the training program every driver using the Micab app has to go through. Ybanez said the drivers are taught everything they need to know to be exemplary customer service professionals, including how to greet passengers, what processes they should follow (i.e. drivers should always offer to help passengers load and unload their belongings) and even when and how to converse with passengers. The program ends with the driver taking an oath as he or she embraces the profession as a calling and to uphold this calling with professionalism, respect and kindness.
Micab now serves 20,000 passengers a day in its home market of Cebu, and has expanded to other key markets in the country, including Manila, Iloilo, Bacolod and Baguio.
According to Ybanez, Micab’s taxis have three main value propositions. The first is cost. Unlike transport network vehicle services (TNVS), Micab has no surge pricing or even a booking fee. What you see on the meter is what you pay. The platform earns revenue from advertisers on its taxi toppers. Second, taxis arrive to pick-up points as efficiently as private cars on other ride-hailing platforms, since there is a network of cabs in every major Philippine city.
Passengers can rate drivers using a five-star system and provide written feedback.
“This kind of accountability creates a virtuous cycle: The good drivers are filtered to the top, and those who need to improve become aware of how they can do so,” Ybanez said.
The Micab app should be intuitive for anyone who has used a ride-hailing solution before. After inputting your destination (the app auto-detects your pick-up point), you are given a fare estimate. Upon hailing the cab, you can track the taxi as it comes to you on the live map—which currently takes no more than a few minutes.
“A clean, modern taxi arrives at your destination, driven by a driver who has been professionally trained and is kind, courteous and respectful,” Ybanez said.
Objectively, the public is still at the mercy of TNVS and cab drivers who choose to accept our bookings or not. I have found that drivers can be very creative when it comes to going around the rating system. Still, I hope for the best. The entry of Micab will hopefully serve as a signal for other ride hailing apps to improve their services and maybe for other TNVS to come to the Philippines.