cars, cabs, and commuting

Last week I talked about my ‘everyday travel’ challenge.  In making my plans, I let some friends in on the project, and I got a lot of interesting feedback.  One of the most interesting things I heard was this: “Taking a cab is not commuting. It’s hiring a car to take you to a specific place.”  I reminded the person who said this that the challenge was not to do any extreme commuting or any commuting that involves multiple modes of transport in one go, but to make sure I ride every form of transportation readily available to me this month.  (I decided NOT to point out that by definition, commuting is just the “regular travel between one’s residence and one’s place of work or study” and that the mode of transport is not really taken into account unless specified, such as “commuter bus” etc.)

So I went about my business.  In the past week I have taken both cars and cabs.  I even documented (by filming) one of my cab trips.  I felt awfully silly doing it while I was standing on the street with my camera, but once inside the cab, it was fine…for all of two minutes because I once again felt awfully silly for sitting there with my camera and essentially talking to myself.

(In order not to spread the silliness, I will NOT be posting the video on the blog.  Today’s featured image is a photo of a really cool car instead.)

Back to my point:  I guess I understood what my friend meant.  What he was trying to say was that cabs are in a different category of public transportation because while you’re using it, it’s kind of private.  It is kind of like having a car.  That being said–admitted–however, there are a few things I did learn in what I am calling my “car and cab week.”

 

Things I noted about cabs in this city:

1) They hail you

It’s really funny.  You can be standing on the sidewalk, just looking at your phone or minding your own business.  You can be walking along the street because where you have to go is literally around the block, and cabs honk at you and slow down as they drive next to you.  Aren’t YOU supposed to hail the cab?  Not the other way around?  Still, I suppose it can be useful.

 

2) They have the most interesting names

Every cab, unless tied to a big company, has its own unique name.  I have read some names I’d never heard of.  Most of them, upon asking the cab drivers, are names of children, parents, their own names, or combinations of the names of people in their family.

 

3) They have the most interesting decor

While not all cab drivers choose to decorate their cab’s interior, those that do tend to go all out.  In this past week, I have sat in cabs that have had stuffed toys lining the back, bobble-head toys in front, religious paraphernalia in various places, etc.  You name it, and there is probably a cab out there that is decorated that way.

 

4) The phone numbers on the side mean nothing

Many cabs have their phone numbers on the side of the cab and painted on the interior of the doorframe.  I always ask whether or not the driver can be reached at that number for a pick-up.  Usually if the cab belongs to a company, the number is that of the company and an operator will arrange the pick-up for you.  BUT if the number belongs to the cab driver, you cannot really arrange pick-ups.  You can give them a call, and if they are near you and have no passenger then they will take you, but otherwise, no deal.

 

5) Try GrabTaxi instead!

There is a just-launched iOS and Android app that can arrange cabs for you.  Kind of like giving a cab company a call, the app finds your location and tells you how many cabs are near you.  It will then facilitate getting a cab to pick you up and drop you off where you want to go.  It can get kind of competitive during rush hour as app-users can promise higher tips through the app, which means cab drivers get to choose their passengers.  Best thing about it though is that it is safe and guaranteed!

 

6) There are shared cabs

Though cabs are definitely the most expensive form of public transportation, what with the whole it being “private” while you’re using it thing, there are some cabs that take on more than one passenger.  If a group of people all waiting at a taxi stand are going in the same general direction, some cabs allow more than one passenger, which is awesome because you get to share the fare!

 

(Putting my announcer voice on…)

And that was this past week on ‘everyday travel.’  Nothing groundbreaking or amazing, but still a couple of things learned.  This week will be all about tricycles and jeepneys.  Or at least, that’s the plan.

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