(Update on April 11, 2016: In March 2016, Uberhop introduced a new route that goes from Forbestown in the Fort to Podium Mall, Ortigas in the morning, and in opposite direction in the evening, for P80 per person per trip. It also offers an alternative route that goes between Market!Market! Mall and Podium Mall, Ortigas,for P65 per trip per person. Another route, between Net Quad, 31st Street, and Shangri La Plaza in Mandaluyong, costs P60 per trip per person.
Between Makati and BGC, Uberhop has also introduced two additional routes, namely between Market!Market! Mall and Legazpi Village, and between LandMark in Makati and Net Quad at 31st Street, BGC, for P50 per trip per person. Note though, not all routes run in both direction at the same time, and they only run during certain hours of the day.)
Uber, an app company that specializes in arranging car rides, launched a pilot service for sharing rides, called UberHop, last Monday. It is currently only available for routes between Fort Bonifacio (also known as BGC) and Makati City. We were very excited to learn about this, as it is usually very hard to get any public transportation, be it taxi or BGC Bus, during rush hours, and Makati City is one of the most popular destinations for taxi rides from BGC.
And it so happened that we had an event to attend at Legaspi Street last night. It was a sign. We were destined to try this. At that time we did not realize that actually there were three destinations in Makati City. The others are Buendia and Dela Rosa. The pick up location was at 31st Street, which was convenient for us.
At 5:25pm, we booked a ride. You can only pick the route, because the pick-up point and the destination are fixed. The app tells you in how many minutes the vehicle would depart from pick-up point. We got to the pick-up point, but could not find the car. Apparently, either we did not do it correctly, or the app had a bug, so our booking did not go through. Luckily, there were many Uber staff there to launch this first UberHop ride (we did not know that at the time), and they guided us to another Uber car.
It was a Toyota Innova in decent condition. We got in, and were given a free Uber T-shirt because of our bravery in trying this new service. We waited for a few minutes, and other riders came, one after another. In total, there were four passengers in the car, plus the driver. We were told that the maximum number of passengers was 6 persons.
Then soon the car departed for Makati City. From getting in the car to the car starting to move, our wait was about ten minutes. The Uber staff said the maximum waiting time was ten minutes, so even if there was only one rider, the car would depart, and the passenger would only have to pay for her fare, which we believe, is 75 pesos.
In the car, all passengers kept to themselves most of the time. We asked the driver a question, and others followed with another, but there was no pressure to interact, which was good. We learned that during the promo period (5 days) Uber drivers were paid a fixed fee for each hour of service, so they would not mind if there was no passenger. But obviously, demand would have to pick up after the promo period for there to be enough drivers joining the scheme.
Back to our trip to Makati. The car used an app to find the best route, as usual Uber cars do. We went on Kalayaan Flyover, took a few turns, and arrived at Greenbelt 5 at Legazpi Street at 6:15pm, which was not bad at all. And the driver opened the door for us.
On the way back, however, we could not get another UberHop, because the app was not working, or our smartphone was lo-battery. Technology has its limits. So we used a regular taxi to go back to Fort Bonifacio. There was a bit of traffic, and took about 35 minutes to get back. The meter showed 110 pesos, and we prepared 150 pesos for the driver because of the longer time, but we regretted it because the driver was complaining about the long ride, presumably as a way of asking for a tip. We would gladly give a tip when the situation warrants, but being pressured to do so does not make us happy. This is one advantage of taking Uber rides.
It was not the trendiest shirt in town, but we appreciate the gesture.
We also made a video of the trip, and you can see it here.