Uber and the 21st century

By Atty. Jerome G. Neri

MY CAR was in for maintenance and I had no transportation. Good thing that I have a Smartphone and the Uber app. So for a day I was travelling with Uber. Experience was great. The drivers that I got owned their own cars, and they were driving with care. I felt a lot safer than the usual taxi ride. The drivers of my different rides all had the same fears being in Uber. They feared that they would be apprehended by the LTFRB. Apparently, Uber is not still allowed in Cebu. The taxi operators are against them and have successfully lobbied against Uber.

According to the UBER drivers, the LTFRB entrap them and impound their cars. The fine is over P100,000 to get the car back. The only way they can make the monthly payments for their cars is to do some part-time driving for Uber. Taxicabs, on the other hand, are owned by operators and the drivers are employees. The taxi drivers don’t make much compared to Uber drivers who own their cars. In terms of amortization, an Uber driver pays around P15,000 per month, while a taxi driver has at least a P1,000 peso per day boundary fee to his employer. Thus, it is more financially rewarding for the Uber driver than a taxi driver. Also, the Uber driver does not have to work as hard, while the taxi driver needs to overwork himself in order to make ends meet.

We are now in the 21st century yet our laws, rules and regulations for public transportation are from the 20th century. And aside from our laws, our forms of public transportation are from the 20th century. Even Cebu City Mayor Osmeña wants to remain in the 20th century by preferring buses over a metrorail system for Cebu’s future public transportation. It is about time that we move to the 21st century in the public transportation sector.

One common denominator with both taxi and Uber drivers is their constant lugging of the engines while they drive. Lugging means driving the car in high gear like fourth or fifth gear at low rpms with high load. My UBER was a 1000cc Toyota Wigo and we were in fourth gear at 1,500 rpm. A lot of people think driving this way is the most economical way to drive. It isn’t. On the contrary, this causes so much stress to the internal engine components and will significantly shorten the lifespan of the engine.

Drivers need to be educated on how to drive not only economically but also with the least stress to the engine. For modern cars, the way to be economical is to use the lift-and-coast technique. Cars of today have what you call a deceleration fuel cut-off function programmed into its engine control unit. As long as your foot is off the accelerator pedal and the engine is in gear above 1500 rpm, the fuel is shut off, and on that moment, the car is not consuming any fuel at all. Go through the gears until you reach slightly above your desired speed then lift the gas and let the car coast, and if the slope is slightly downhill the car will coast for a good distance. Going down the mountains, keep it in gear while letting the car coast with your foot off the gas. The distance covered by coasting is a distance covered with zero fuel consumption.

Practice this lift-and-coast technique and one will feel the difference in fuel consumption. Coasting for a total of more than a kilometer a day is achievable.

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