Mary Ann Ll. Reyes

(PHILSTAR) HIDDEN AGENDA By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes - Here are a few tips for the taxi-riding public, especially women, from Easy Taxi, the world’s biggest taxi application.

“Before even going inside the taxi, you may ask the driver to open up the trunk. It’s for you to ensure that there is nothing the taxi driver might be hiding to use against you later on. You can never be too careful!

“You may ask to take a picture of the driver and the plate number inked on the side doors of the cab. This will scare them, making them think twice if they would want to pursue you as their next victim.

“Make it a habit to always call or send SMS to one of your friends or family to let them know of your destination, the vehicle’s plate number, the driver’s name and the exact time and location where you left off. You may also pretend making a call even when you’re phone’s off just to scare off any malicious attempts. If you notice the driver act suspicious as you make your call, do not hesitate to get out of the car. Your safety is not worth second guessing. Always stay alert of what is happening around you.

“A new mobile app for Filipino commuters called PASAHERO, a passenger safety app. This mobile app protects the user by broadcasting trip details to social media and your contacts. PASAHERO can map, broadcast, and even record a trip for safety purposes. It can also alert a user’s family or friends if there’s any danger encountered while on the road. This app was developed by ABS-CBN Digital Media Division and powered by”

– Easy Taxi is offering a promo for solo female commuters.

Easy Taxi, the world’s biggest taxi application is also offering a promo for solo female drivers. The company will waive the P70 booking fee for every solo female passenger taking a taxi in Metro Manila from Feb. 14 to March 14, 2014.

According to Easy Taxi regional CEO Mario Berta, the solo female promo aims at rebuilding the image that taxi drivers have especially among female commuters.

He said that one of their advocacies here in the Philippines is to rebrand the transportation industry of the country, especially in regard to taxis where more and more stories are coming out related to terrifying taxi ride experiences.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) reported an increasing number of incidents concerning taxi drivers who raped their female passengers.

An alarming number of female passengers have complained about being drugged unconscious while riding cabs. Based on reports, taxi drivers use chemicals to make their female passengers dizzy and numb so they could carry out their nefarious intents such as robbery or physical assault.

In one report submitted by NCRPO to LTFRB, a complainant reported feeling dizzy inside a taxi after the driver ‘sprayed something that smelled of gas’. Similar stories were also posted on Facebook about taxi drivers who drug their passengers by placing a ‘wet towel soaked in an unknown chemical solution’ directly to the cab’s aircon vent, so the smell would overpower those who inhale it.

More frequent inspection

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has been complaining about the lack of inspectors to check every public bus transport.

While it may be true that due to insufficient budget, the LTFRB only has around 300 inspectors to check on around 40,000 buses nationwide, it is the lack of political will on the part of our transport agencies that is being abused by bus operators.

How often do these inspectors really do an honest-to-goodness inspection? How many operators resort to the “lagay” system so that inspectors will just look the other way.

Every public utility vehicle should be inspected thoroughly for road worthiness as a requirement for renewal of registration. But there should also be a means by which these PUVs could be inspected more often than once a year.

Maybe government should require that PUVs be checked every quarter and then privatize the inspection scheme and charge fees for it. While this would mean more expenses for the operators, this scheme is justified because public safety requires it.

Then of course, all PUVs should be required to install speed limiters while PUV drivers should be required to undergo trainings.

How many jeepney drivers are even aware of the concept of right-of-way, of the meaning of road signs, of the rights of pedestrians and passengers?

Shouldn’t drivers of all kinds of PUVs, including tricycles and pedicabs, be required to at least have a highschool diploma?

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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