Anyone who has ever had to plow through EDSA during weekday rush hour is well-acquainted with the misery that is Manila traffic. Whether you are getting crammed into the MRT like sardines or sweating at the back of a jeepney, the commute here is never easy.
Thankfully, the rise of carpooling apps, such as UberPool and Wunder, can make your daily commute so much easier for you. You will get to travel in a relative comfort inside a private vehicle and help relieve some of the traffic congestion — if only a little bit.
I have been carpooling for the past three months or so. I’ve mostly been using Wunder, because it is one of the cheapest options for me. Currently, I spend 90 pesos carpooling from Quezon City to Makati every day.
It’s a fun, convenient and cost-effective way to get around. Here are some tips for you to master carpooling in Manila:
Check Reviews and Ratings
Ideally, you want to be able to carpool with friends or neighbors. This is not always feasible, however, as your friends can have a very different schedule from your own. If you plan on riding with someone unfamiliar, be sure to read the reviews and ratings instead.
Both Wunder and UberPool have a rating and review system. You want to look for someone who has completed many trips, and has received multiple 5-star ratings from passengers. Good reviews increase the chances of finding a trustworthy carpool driver.
Contact at Least Ten Drivers
When you are starting out, it can be difficult to actually find a driver that you can carpool with. According to Wunder, you will have to contact at least ten drivers to make sure that you get a ride when you need it.
Remember, you are carpooling, not ordering a taxi — people are not obligated to pick you up or to comply to your terms. You will have to cast a wider net and come to an agreement first. Once you have this out of the way, the process is relatively easy.
As a carpooler, you will need to be flexible — after all, you are technically asking for a favor from the driver. It may not be a free ride, but they are not actually making a profit from it as you are only sharing the cost of the gas.
Be accommodating and try to be flexible with both the time and your pickup location. If you worry about being late to work, be sure to choose an earlier schedule to make it easier to meet up. When carpooling, it is normal to have days that you will be arriving at your destination earlier than your usual schedule, depending on your driver’s availability.
Though carpooling is a great way to get around, harassment and even pick pocketing is still a huge risk when you are riding with strangers. Make sure that you stay awake throughout the entire trip — remember, even if you trust your driver, you cannot be entirely sure about the other passengers. It is best to stay awake and to always be aware of what is happening around you.
Be familiar with your route
When it comes to navigation, don’t leave everything to the driver. Though it is unlikely for you to get lost, it is always a good idea for multiple people to know exactly where they are going and where they have been.
It is also a safety issue — if you are familiar with your route, it is much easier to notice any suspicious turns into unfamiliar areas.
Tell someone where you are and who you are with
Like taxis, it is best that you always tell someone where you are and who you are with when you are carpooling. Take note of the vehicle model, the plate number, and the name of the driver. Text it to someone you trust — usually a family member or a close friend. Don’t forget to tell them where you are going, and to give them updates once you reach your destination.
Have a backup ride
Sometimes, your driver will have to cancel on you at the last minute — they could be sick, gotten into an accident, or maybe just overslept. Be sure to have a backup plan in case this happens to you. On days like this, I usually just end up taking the train or a taxi.
If you wish, you could also leave them a poor review, but be sure to consider the reasons behind it. They may have had a legitimate concern that needed to be addressed.
Chat, make new friends, and enjoy!
While it is always a good idea to be vigilant while carpooling, I can guarantee you that it is a fun, enjoyable experience on most days. Arguably, the best part about carpooling is that you get to make new friends and have great conversations during your ride to or from work. Plus, you get to do it in comfort and style, improving traffic one ride at a time.