After nine years of being a commuter, I have come to the conclusion that cabbies, generally, are out to extort money from their passengers in whatever way possible:
- Asking for additional fee on top of the metered fare
- Setting a fixed fare instead of using a meter – Php500 from Taguig to Naia? Seriously, they do this. And to think that Naia is just a few kilometers away. If they use the meter, it won’t even reach Php100.
- In several spots in Taguig and Makati, cabbies would carpool – charging individual passengers almost the full fare but taking on 3-4 passengers in one go. Take for example in BCDA, a lot of the taxi cabs there would get Makati office workers each morning, cramming 3-4 passengers and charging each Php100. And they won’t even drop you off at your stop but instead drop you off where convenient for them. Just think, the normal metered fare going to Makati from our place is around Php120-150 depending on the traffic, but given how they operate, they earn Php300-400 in one trip, at the expense and inconvenience of the commuters.
Of course, if you are in a hurry or stuck in the rain, consider yourself lucky that you even managed to get a cab to take you even if they charge you a heart attack-inducing fee – they are quite notorious for turning down passengers.
But aside from the extortion bit, riding a cab is an ordeal in itself, if you get one who does nothing but rant the entire trip. Last night, I was very unfortunate to have gotten a cab who kept on insinuating that I should add to his meter because he won’t be able to find passengers after he drops me off. I take offense here because I am a generous tipper – I usually add Php20-50 to my fare depending on whether the cabbie was pleasant and if he got me to my destination in one piece. So I am annoyed when they demand this upfront; no need to demand you know, it’s not your right but entirely dependent on the generosity of your passengers. Plus, it’s not my problem if there are no passengers; this comes with your job. Call it a downside, but every job has one. If you don’t want to go to a specific place, you should state that on your taxi so passengers will not hail you anymore. Not only that, he kept on complaining about the security measures in our place: he had to leave his ID at the main gate and get a visitor’s pass and trade in his visitor’s pass for our compound’s gate pass. I don’t know about our neighbors but I actually appreciate these steps taken by our security. It makes me feel extra safe.
The final straw was actually when he asked me which side of the road he should be on; I couldn’t help but snap back at him that hello? We’re on a two-way street, you can clearly see cars on both lanes and you ask me whether you should be on the right or left side of the road? You shouldn’t be driving if you can’t figure that out. Don’t ask me how to do your job.
I once read that “the longest distance between two points is the taxi route.” I can’t remember who said that, but it was very striking that even up to now, I remember the quote though I must have read it only once or twice. It was so accurate an observation and the analogies are endless.
Like how this same quote can apply to our public officials, and to the public governance system as a whole – they extort money from us to do their jobs when it’s their responsibility in the first place, and take their sweet time in doing something that could be done in a snap. Case in point: the NAIA comfort rooms. It has been like that for as long as I can remember (translation: many many years). How long does it take to fix a forsaken CR, right? I mean, give me the money and I will fix it in less than a month.
Corruption very much prevails in our taxi system like in our government – most of the cabbies who charge Php100 per passenger in the Makati and Taguig areas are employed by the military or police; or if not, are under the protection of these men in uniform. No wonder I have very low regard, even fear, of these supposed protectors of the civilian people. Very few of them are honest, trustworthy and law-abiding; quite ironic, given that they are the ones who we trust to make sure everyone toes the line.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a choice and are stuck with them – both the cabbies and our politicians. Heck, maybe I should become one. I can think of at least a hundred ways to make the longest distance the shortest distance.