21 October 2004

Conversations with a Taxi Driver

Taxi fare has increased last week from a flag-down rate of P25.00 to P30.00 and metering charge from P2.00 to P2.50.

Manong is from a local dialect in the northern region of the Philippines which basically means "big brother" but is generally used to address men older than you are.


This is my third time to ride a taxi ever since the fare increased. I basically wanted to know how much it will now cost me to hire one to go to work. So here goes the story.

***

Me: Manong, this is the third time I have taken a taxi, and so far all of them haven't had their meters adjusted yet.

Manong: There are lots of taxis here in Manila. More than 5,000 of them! The Land Transportation Office is prioritizing the big taxi companies, then us next.

Me: So how do you go about the fare increase?
Manong: Our boss said to wait it out for a few more days. There was an announcement
to have meters issuing receipts installed as well so instead of having to go to LTO twice, we'll just do it one time.

Me: But the receipt thing was announced months ago!

Manong: Yeah I heard there are still some issues about it. But that's our boss' stand.

[silence]

Manong: You know what? It's the people who are well-off who find it difficult to part with extra cash on top of the metered payment. These people can afford to eat 4 to 5 meals a day and yet they are so stingy with giving tips to taxi drivers.

It's the average person who would usually leave us the change. For example, if the fare is 42 pesos, they give us 50. The rich people will take the change even if it's a measly 5 pesos.

Me: (must be why they're so rich)

Manong: Also the Chinese, Koreans, and the Americans. They will insist on paying the exact fare.

Me: I guess it's their culture.

Manong: You know this increase in fare? It's not really that significant. Only the fact that the value of the peso has really depreciated so much.

Before, the amount we pay for 5 liters of gasoline will now get us a little over 2 liters. That's how much the peso has depreciated.

Me, with forehead creased: Really manong? (I remembered the many times I can't bring my car because I had no money to pay for the gas and parking).

Manong:
Yup. Look, when the flag-down rate was 25, many people generously give the loose change. Now that the rates are up, do you think people will still let go of the change? Nope. So roughly, things would still be the same in terms of the amount of money the driver makes.

However, the money that the driver brings home is now lesser. If he brings 700 pesos before, now he only has 400 pesos or lower. Why? Because it goes to gasoline and boundary ('quota' you give to the taxi owner).


***

And that, is the sad state of mathematics in the taxi industry.

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