Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Taxi Hassles and How to Avoid Them

As the result of some of my recent experiences with taxis in Metro-Manila I have decided take this opportunity to review and expand on some advice that I offered in my original post about what everyone who uses this form of transportation here should know.

First, when you flag down a taxi, tell the driver where you're going before boarding. Many drivers are prima donnas and  will refuse to take you if they think the destination is too far or inconvenient for them.

As soon as you're in the cab make sure that the driver activates the meter immediately.  If he doesn't, chances are he's going to ask for an outrageous flat rate instead.   Or did the driver hesitate before accepting you as a passenger? Chances are he was planning to add a surcharge to the fare.   Either of these scenarios can be infuriating.  But don't let your anger cloud your thinking.  If, say, it's raining and / or taxis are far and few between where you're boarding, it may be best to swallow your pride and roll with with paying an additional P50 tacked onto the fare or to negotiate a flat rate after all.  Otherwise, just say no and tell the driver to pull over and let you out, or threaten to report him to the LFTRB (a government transportation regulation agency). Sometimes either of these demands itself will cause him  to back down and play by the rules.  This also applies to reckless drivers.  Again, deciding when and when not to do "rebel"  is strictly a judgment call.  You can also text complaints about errant drivers to 9988. Click here for details about this service.

Also for your personal safety when you board, text the taxi's license number to a personal contact especially if you're traveling at night or are in an unfamiliar locale. 

If possible, avoid taxis that are in poor condition inside or out.  There seems to be a positive correlation between dilapidated vehicles and greedy drivers. 

Know in advance exactly how far your destination is and how to get there.  Then when you tell the driver what route to take, you will show that you can't be fooled and are less likely to get an unexpected tour of the city. You can buy street maps and directories at places such as National Book Store.  I recommend the "Accu map Metro Manila CitiAtlas" or their "Metro Manila Route Map". Whichever guide  that you're most comfortable using, I suggest that you go over it in your spare time to acquaint yourself with the various streets and byways of the area.

Finally, I don't want to give the impression that all taxi drivers here are dishonest.  That's certainly not the case.  For all that I think I know about getting  around or going from point A to point B in Metro-Manila , I've had drivers who have shown me  better and cheaper routes. It's just that the more you know about being a taxi passenger, the less likely you are to be taken for a ride.    


Alan said...

And with all this, you STILL don't want to drive your own car? (I still remember - and repeat to others - your comment that an unintended-acceleration defect wouldn't be noticed by Philippine drivers.)

Secular Guy said...


As our main income is social security, Lydia and I would not be able to afford and maintain our own car. Many things are cheap in the Philippines, but vehicle ownership and maintenance aren't one of them. Car ownership here costs the same as it does in the U.S. And we would still face the same exposures to road risks from other drivers and other hazards as do taxi passengers.

Taxi fares on the other hand are based on Philippine income. Flagdown (initial meter fare) is the equivalent of about 77 cents USD with additional increments of about 8 cents USD ever 1 or 2 kilometers or every few minutes.

This is why we and most other people here who don't own cars grin and bear it with taxis as our main means of transportation.

Kano said...

We've been living in Mnaila for almost four years now and we experienced a hell of a time with taxi drivers, up to the point that my wife, who is a Filipina, gets really mad at them and we just decided to buy a car and deal with the traffic, just for peace's sake.

We bought a new car and since we had it we only change the oils on regular intervals and this is quite cheap as opposed to in Canada, where we came from. The cheapest car can be bought for about P500,000 but you still can get a good-running 2 year old car that is a lot less.

Of course, you have to get used to the traffic pattern here, which I did very well in a month or so. It gets second nature to drive very close to every car/bus here.

Secular Guy said...

Hi Kano,

I'm glad that you have the financial and emotional resources to buy and maintain a car which so far sound as though you have a good deal. However, there will almost inevitably come a time when you will face more than just oil change expenses, especially when the warranty expires. (In the States, one of the things that I dreaded was for my wife to say sentence "Honey, the car is making funny noises" or to hear them myself.)