Story & photo by Patrick P. Tulfo
THE people behind “Micab” recently launched their smartphone application without approval from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) agency.
Micab is essentially a smartphone application, just like Uber and Grab, which allows the user to book a taxi cab with touch of a button. According to its founder Eddie Ybanez, he started the taxi-hailing application two years ago in Cebu, where Manila pales in comparison when it comes to getting a cab.
It was a proven success that they decided to expand their operations in Iloilo and according to Micab senior Adviser David Vacher, they have at least 600 accredited taxis in Cebu and 200 in Iloilo.
Both were confident that they can duplicate their success in Metro Manila. On July 20 they formally signed an agreement with two of the country’s largest taxi associations, Association of Taxi Operators in Metro Manila (Atomm) and Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA) to bring their successful app in the country’s capital.
Unlike its competitors, Micab doesn’t add any more vehicles on the road that contribute to the worsening traffic conditions in the National Capital Region. Instead, they use existing taxis already plying the road. Ybanez and Varcher assured that they will only partner with premium local taxi operators that meet the company’s stringent requirement on the comfort and roadworthiness of the vehicles before being accredited.
The Micab app is easy to use through its unique features, including proprietary call and chat system between the passenger and driver that let both parties communicate real time—giving the passenger the opportunity to inquire on the current location of the taxicab while waiting. It also has built in customer-support ticketing system with human interaction, credit and debit options for payment, as well as passenger reward system, electronic wallet for payment and loyalty points for the driver.
The upcoming one-push emergency-button feature will surely erase fears of female passengers who may already have a bad experience in the past with taxi drivers.
One advantage of Micab over Uber and Grab is the absence of surge pricing regardless of the hour that the taxi is hailed. Varcher assured this when he said “Taking cab rides need not be worrisome during peak hours because there are no surge fares. Women passengers at any time of the day, and especially at night, will be safe taking a taxi ride back home. The passenger can call for help with a mere push of a button on the mobile app at sign of danger and threat”.
Varcher also added that low booking fee of P50 will go mostly to the driver and taxi operator.
Varcher added that their company is also into advertising (digital and traditional) via taxi fleets and the upcoming healthcare in partnership with of the largest health maintenance organization in the country and a logistics and delivery service in partnership with Gothong Southern Shipping Lines Inc., both are expected to be launched in last quarter of this year.
Lawyer Bong Suntay, president of PNTOA, for his part said, “Taxi operators are one with the passengers in looking for a seamless, convenient, safe and worry-free transport service that everyone can use. This is a major reason we are partnering with Micab; this will allow us to provide maximum convenience to our commuting public.