Beat Manila’s Carmageddon With These Apps

Commuter and driver woes have been piling up even more lately. Those of us just trying to get around in Manila face so many headaches, like heavy traffic and no parking spaces. But then, what are your alternatives? Even if you could take a taxi, you’ve probably heard stories of taxi drivers scamming passengers, or you’ve personally waited for hours by the side of the road as taxi after taxi refused to take you your to destination.

Well, three companies have opened in the Philippines over the last year hoping to solve your travelling problems. Right now, GrabTaxi, Easy Taxi, and Uber are fighting a battle royale for the hearts, minds, and pesos of city folk who just want to get from point A to point B with the least hassle. (Which is good news for you, because not only do you have more options, but they have promos to entice more users to their services. We’ve included some of those promos below, so read on!)

If you have a smartphone and want a taxi to come to you instead of the other way around, you should get these apps on your phone.

Easy Taxi

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Easy Taxi is currently available in 27 countries and over 120 cities, with more than 300,000 drivers globally, according to Daniel Torres, CEO of Easy Taxi Philippines. They’ve been in Manila for over a year now, and just opened up in Cebu.

The company has partnered with Metro Manila taxi fleets to ensure a large network of rides for passengers. Booking a ride is easy; just use your smartphone to book. There’s a booking fee of P70, but it’s waived until October 4.

Drivers are screened for safety. Easy Taxi requires that they have clear criminal records, are up to date with payments, have all regulatory documentation, and that their cars are in good condition. (No weird-smelling cabs or those with broken aircon.) You can also share your trip with others so they know where you are.

They also have a “Driver Education Program”, aiming at improving drivers’ customer service, driving skills, and professionalism. Drivers also get rewards when they perform well, which means that they’ll be focused on giving you a good travel experience. “We are 100% focused on taxi drivers, and connecting our passengers to them, and on offering the best possible customer experience every time you make a request,” says Torres.


  • Free booking fee! Until November 4, you won’t have to pay any fees on top of your metered fare.



GrabTaxi is the largest taxi booking app in Southeast Asia, and it’s growing every day. “Let’s just say there’s 4 GrabTaxi bookings being made every 2 seconds,” says Khriz Lim, Passenger Experience Head at GrabTaxi. They opened in Manila last year, and started Cebu this year, with plans to operate in Davao soon.

“GrabTaxiPH is being run by a local team. We know what our country needs and how to address them,” Lim adds.

Some Metro Manila fleets have signed up with GrabTaxi, making it easy to find a cab near you. Set your location using your phone, tap your destination, and book. Just pay the P70 booking fee on top of the metered fare — but sometimes they have “free booking fee” promos.

If you’re worried about your safety, you can relax. According to Lim, GrabTaxi asks for each fleet’s top drivers, and screens them by asking for police clearances, barangay clearances, taxi registrations, and permits to operate. When a passenger books a ride, they receive a photo of their driver, plate number, mobile number and driver’s location, and can share their whole trip via email for extra safety.

GrabTaxi has also launched GrabCar, its premium service that provides private cars to you where you need to go in more style.

Promos right now:

  • Free movie tickets! Until October 11, if you book a ride to SM Aura, SM City Makati, SM City North Edsa, SM San Lazaro, SM Megamall, or SM Manila on a Saturday or Sunday, you could get free movie tickets. Just show your booking history at the designated GrabTaxi terminal and get a free movie card you can use at any SM cinema.

  • Try GrabCar for less! Type GRABCAR in the promo code field to get P200 OFF* in every GrabCar ride you take, until October 26.



“Everyone’s private driver,” Uber is different from the two apps above. They don’t partner with taxi fleets. Instead, they recruit drivers, with the method varying from city to city. Instead of cabs, you get a private car to pick you up: sample cars include Mitsubishi Monteros and Toyota Fortuners.

Because of this premium offering, expect to pay more for an Uber ride than for a taxi ride. UberBLACK, “the original Uber,” has a base fare of P90, and P2.10 per minute or P12.92 per kilometer, costing around 1.5 times as much as a taxi. UberX, “the low-cost Uber”, is aimed to compete with regular taxis, with a lower base fare of P40 and only P2 per minute. And if you were planning to take an Uber during rush hour, be prepared for “surge pricing”, which means that your regular Uber bill is doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled when there’s high demand for a ride.

Uber is cashless — payment is made through credit cards, which you connect to your account. This is really convenient, but since not everybody has credit cards, this puts Uber out of the range of a lot of people. (If you don’t have a credit card and would like one, feel free to check out our credit card comparison table.) But if you need an upgrade to your usual travel options and don’t want to put up with all the hassles of car ownership, Uber does the trick.

Promos: If you use a friend’s promo code, you can get P300 in Uber credits. And if you refer friends and they use your promo code, you both get credits as well.

Which app should you use?

It really depends on what you want:

  • If you need to access a large network of vehicles, GrabTaxi and Easy Taxi are your best bets, since they’ve partnered with Manila’s major taxi fleets and there’s probably one near you right now.

  • If what you need is to arrive in more comfort and style, and you’re willing to pay extra, use Uber.

Whichever one you choose, you’re helping revolutionize the transportation system in Manila.



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