Techie Taxi

I’ve been writing about Techie people on Technobiography. Today, I write about Techie Taxis in Singapore and relate them to the technologies that we have in the Philippines that can turn Filipino Taxi drivers into Techies too.

The Taxis we rode in Singapore had a variety of gadgets:

a.) A seven segment display LED fare meter, just like we have here in the Philippines.
b.) An ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) sensor that automatically debits a toll fee when passing ERP gates (some Singaporeans call this “everyday rob people”). The gadget is like the e-Pass gadget of motorists at the South Luzon Expressway .
c.) A touch screen monitor that indicates where the passenger boarded the taxi and at what time. At the end of the trip, the monitor indicates the fare, sometimes with adjustments depending on the time of day or location of pick-up. The touch screen monitor has other functions, I’m sure. At one time, I observed an announcement message in the monitor, to which the driver tapped the screen to acknowledge reading the message. I wonder if they could watch “œLaban o Bawi” on those monitors.
d.) I also surmise that the taxi has some kind of global positioning device. How else can the monitor automatically “œknow” where the passenger boarded the taxi.
e.) Lastly, you’ll see a credit card terminal and a printer! Yup yup, you read it right. Passengers can pay the taxi using a credit card.

And for the heck of it as an academic and research exercise (read: pang-u-usiyoso), I tried paying for one taxi ride using my credit card. Nahiya pa ako when I asked the driver, “œMay I pay via credit card?” Our bill was only around 3 Singapore dollars (around 95 Philippine pesos). “œSure”, said the taxi driver as he began the credit card verification.

I couldn’t see it from the back seat, but I heard a recorded female voice giving audible instructions to the driver. He waited for a cue and then he swiped my card. We waited a while and then the on-board printer started churning out a tape receipt which I signed.

There. Finished! Paid! With some admin charges (around SGD50 ata) . Oops! Pero okay lang, at least I have this story to tell.

I guess the taxi has some sort of modem that connects to the credit card verification network via a mobile phone call. What’s the net effect? Well, it’s a convenient and cashless payment method. It’s exact (no need for barya – lose change). It’s a good back-up payment method especially for tourists or business executives who might not have enough Singapore dollars to pay for a cab.

Neat huh?

Can we do this in the Philippines? Pay without cash. Pay exact fare. Get a receipt for the payment. Even ask a friend to make the payment for us if we don’t have enough cash.

Yup, we can do already that! In fact, it has been advertised on TV. It’s called G-Cash. For that matter, Smart Money can also be used to make the payment.

By using m-commerce, we can avoid having a driver keep the change so automatically. Nocs calls this “œsukli challenged drivers“.

Another plus side of m-commerce for the driver, he doesn’t have to hang on to too much hard cash. Instead, he has mobile currency that he can forward to the company or to his wife to reduce the risks of having too much money at hand. At the end of the day, he can even forward his “œboundary” using the G-Cash he collected throughout the day.

Imagineering lang “¦ things that could be “¦

Afterall, a great invention (and a great country) begins with imagining what could be attained.

ka edong

On Technobiography: Pasa Pamasahe, Techie Lola, Techie Drayber, Edong’s Dreams

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  • Ka Edong, you forgot to mention that these cabs not only are equipped with a mobile phone, they also have a walkie talkie! First time I was in Singapore was 4 years ago… they already have all those gadgets you mentioned… This really means we are w-a-y behind…

  • darksparrow

    what about those Armored Car? ang alam ko medyo high-tech na din yung andito sa pinas i think naka GPS na yung iba at marami pang feature

  • Yup, i heard about services that offer vehicle tracking using GPS-GSM-Web. I found two services via Google:
    Starcomm – http://www.starcomm.com.ph/
    TrackMe – http://www.trackme.com.ph/

    you can find out location of any of your vehicles through this. Hmmm… siguro pwede na yung taxi beacon dream ko (http://technobiography.blogspot.com/2004/09/edongs-dreams-taxi-beacon.html) if taxi fleets start to use GPS.

    ka edong

  • GPS gadgets are becoming so common here. There’s a store at Sim Lim Square that sells anything about GPS, bike-mounted, car-mounted, anywhere-mounter. You can also add-on maps. So if you want an instant GPS system for your 1984 Corolla Liftback DX, that’s the store you have to look for. 😉

    Of all the techie-ness of the taxis, one thing I didn’t find good about the drivers here, it’s the personal service. I remember back in the Phils. where the taxi drivers will help me carry my shopping bags all the way to my front door without losing anything. Here, putsa bahala ka sa buhay mo, drivers will just wait for you to unload your stuff and speed off. Small things that I won’t exchange techie-ness.

  • bit

    I’m guessing that the easiest way to implement a money-less taxi system here in the Philippines would be through our ever-present cellphones. Why, this could be a pretty decent school project.J2ME, anyone? 🙂

  • Comparing Singapore Taxi service against Philippines? Why not compared against Malaysia’s Taxi. Malaysia Taxi is the worst I ever come across. Not to mention those advance gadgets, they do not even use meter! Malaysia Taxi Service is the worst!

  • Guys pano ung driver software nito? gusto ko sanang e root tong CM flare
    do you think its advisable to root the phone?
    has anyone tried rooting the phone yet?