Grab vs Uber: the ridesharing services battle for supremacy?
I have made it a custom to share articles here on my blog. One reason for me to do this is so I have an archive of sorts for articles that caught my attention that I have either read or not that I want to get back to. Here is another article on ridesharing, this time from a popular magazine:
Grab vs Uber: Who’s getting the riders and making money?
This is relevant material for ongoing studies we are doing about ridesharing. I am also writing a couple of papers on this topic that we intend to present and publish next year.
Uber as a Ponzi scheme?
I came upon this article posted by an acquaintance on his social media account. The article appears to be click-bait given its title but reading through it, the author leads you to other articles of what seems to be a series about Uber’s operations. I won’t give any assessment here as we are also doing research on ridesharing (although for now its mostly about the passengers perspective and characteristics). I will let my readers digest the content and context of the following article:
Excellent, deep series on Uber’s Ponzi-scheme economics
No more bike share at BGC?
Walking back to the parking lot near Seda Hotel after my meeting near Net One Center yesterday, I noticed that the bike share rack near Krispy Kreme was empty of bicycles. I was about to rejoice but then I noticed, too, that the portal by which you can borrow a bicycle was also missing. Was it temporarily removed because of all the activities (Christmas season) that were ongoing at Bonifacio High Street? Or were the proponents already in the process of removing them? I hope it was the first or perhaps the second but only to relocate the rack elsewhere where it is more strategic and perhaps attract more people to use it. Meanwhile, a nearby bike rack for cyclists to place and secure their bicycles was full. This meant a lot of people actually took their bicycles to High Street but these were their own and not part of the bike share system.
NAIA airport buses
Among the things I liked when traveling to countries like the US, Japan, Singapore and Thailand is that I have many options to travel between their airports and the city. In Narita, for example, I had the option to take a bus (Airport Limousine Bus, etc.) or train (JR Narita Express, JR Yokosuka-Sobu Line Airport Narita, Keisei Skyliner, etc.) to and from the airport to Tokyo, Yokohama or Saitama where I’ve stayed before. Now, I am glad that there already an airport express bus serving the international airport in Manila.
UBE Express is a recently introduced airport bus service for people traveling to and from the passenger terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Here are a couple of images describing the service that was shared by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) FB page:
Their Facebook page states that they still charge a promotional fare of 150 Pesos (about 3 US Dollars) for a trip for this Christmas season. More information are available from their FB page and interested people can send them a message using this medium. It seems they reply immediately to comments and queries so that’s good for those who have questions about the service. Here are a couple more images from their FB page:
City coding anyone?
Last December 8, it was a holiday at Taguig City as they celebrated their foundation day. Not surprisingly, many major roads including C-5, Ortigas Avenue and EDSA were relieved of congestion and I was among those who benefited from this as we breezed through Ortigas to get to the hospital for our daughter’s regular check-up. I also saw many posts on Facebook in agreement with this observation as they too had shorter travel times particularly between Quezon City and Taguig.
I jokingly proposed on my social media account that perhaps, instead of tinkering with the number coding scheme, we should have something like coding for cities. I recall recommending something like making a holiday for one major traffic generating city for each of the five working week days. It’s like making Mondays off for Makati City, Tuesdays off for Pasig, Wednesdays for Makati, Thursdays for Taguig, and Fridays for Manila. I got some supportive comments including one that made very good sense about commuters losing the equivalent of a day anyway because of traffic congestion. The 4-day work week is not at all unusual or new since this has been practiced in many offices including government offices. In certain cases, there are offices that allows you to work from home once a week so you only need to be physically in the office for 4 days. It would be nice for an analysis for this proposal be made and supported perhaps by some modelling so we can have metrics for the potential benefits to all of such 4-day work weeks.
Bike share success?
There are two articles about bike sharing that got my attention today. These are both asked the question of weather bike sharing programs actually work or are successful. Following are links to the two articles available online:
Both articles draw upon the experiences in many cities in the United States where various bike share programs have sprouted. Many seem to have had some measure of success but most are not as successful when evaluated using criteria mentioned in the articles. I guess there’s much to be learned here but the experiences should not be limited to the US. There are better examples in Europe where bicycle use is quite popular compared to the US. Perhaps Asian examples, too, need to be assessed but then all need to be examined objectively and according to the unique situations and/or circumstances for how these bike shares came to be in the first place. In Metro Manila, the bike share program by the students at the sprawling University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City is a recent one but is very popular with students. Another, more endowed program in a more posh district in Taguig City is much less successful judging from the usually full racks of bicycles. There are also lessons to be learned here and perhaps things that can be shared with others looking to come up with their own bike share programs in their cities and towns.
Footpaths at the College of Engineering Complex, UP Diliman
There are newly constructed concrete footpaths connecting the buildings of the College of Engineering complex at the University of the Philippines Diliman. These are intended for pedestrians to be able to walk between buildings without worrying about weather-related concerns such as muddy paths during the wet season.
My colleague took the following photos while walking towards the Institute of Civil Engineering building from Velasquez Street where the university has a portal leading to its housing for faculty and staff.
The concrete pathway is a significant improvement from the old dirt path that seemed to have been carved out of people’s trekking along this path over the last year or so.
The path connects buildings at the area designated for the College of Engineering Complex. Many buildings such as the one above are under construction or to be constructed in this area.
Much of the pathway goes through trees and other plants, preserving the greens already there that help provide a more enjoyable environment for walking.
The pathway was dubbed the “Engineering Unity Path” as it connects buildings that are homes to individual institutes and departments that constitute the College of Engineering.
End of the road – one end of the foot path leads to Maramag Street and the driveway to the Executive House, the official residence of the UP President.
Maramag St. towards the Institute of Civil Engineering (ICE) complex with the ICE main building at left
While the pathway seems to be a permanent structure it is something I think is basically evolving just like the College of Engineering Complex. The complex already has a master plan but implementation towards a cohesive complex seem far from completion. For one, much of the complex covers a residential area in the university that has many (too many) informal settlers. And then there is the Executive House at the heart of the complex that probably needs to be moved elsewhere.
Habal-habal in Metro Manila
I posted about our ongoing research on motorcycle taxis. One of our subject areas are Pasig and Taguig in Metro Manila. These would likely represent the urban motorcycle taxi operations that we wanted to document and assess. One terminal I specifically asked our staff to visit as part of the recon/pre-survey activities is located at Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City near where the Pasig River connects with the Laguna de Bay. It is along Circumferential Road 6 and, based on my observation, has transferred locations several times since C-6 was being widened and paved.
This is the terminal at Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City along C-6 and near the Napindan Ferry Terminal.
The current terminal stands along what used to be the older C-6 lane. The newer paved section of the widened C-6 is shown in use. It used to be closer to the bridge that crossed the Pasig River and near the Napindan Ferry Terminal.
The habal-habal riders and operators have an organization and are generally tolerated by the local government. Unlike their provincial “relatives”, they usually only take one passenger seated at the back of the rider. Two passengers are not unusual or irregular especially if one is a child.
I will post about the characteristics of habal-habal operations soon. However, I don’t want to preempt the research we are doing so I would also prefer that we submit our report first and maybe even submit a paper or two for publication before I post them here. Among the things we have obtained so far are video recordings of what its like to ride these motorcycles. We used an action camera mounted on the rider’s helmet for this purpose. Our staff also did a quick interview of the service providers and will be doing a full survey soon to get substantial information for our research.
“Semplang” – motorcycle self accidents
There is a Filipino word used for falling by yourself for whatever reason or factor – semplang. The term applies for those riding a bicycle or motorcycle where a person has basically no one to blame but himself/herself for falling. Of course, there will be factors like weather and road conditions. Wet, slippery roads can be very treacherous. So are roads with potholes and/or open manholes. In most cases, however, the rider’s skill more than the other so-called factors that could have affected his movement and balance.
This is a case of a motorcycle rider losing his balance. I know because this happened as the motorcycle rider made a U-turn right in front of my vehicle at the slot across BF Steel in Cainta.
I am not certain about the condition of the rider in the photo above. While he looked shaken up (surprised?) by the incident, it did not seem to me as if he was moving abnormally (i.e., intoxicated or disabled). Perhaps its his skill that led to this? Such could not have been the case if he had sufficient training and experience and properly licensed to ride a motorcycle. Sadly, a lot of motorcycle riders are not well trained and gain skills only from experience. Yet, there are many who ride like they are stuntmen, often risking their lives and limbs as they maneuver (weave) through traffic.