Street smarts and Grab
Most of us will agree that traffic keeps getting worse. Complaints about getting stuck on the way to work or home have become part of our daily social media fare. Yet how much of these rants and observations end up changing policy in commuters’ favor?
Grab’s suggestion for a third-party study on how ride-hailing services have changed traffic, if at all, makes sense. Grab Philippines country head Brian Cu brought up the idea while in Cebu last week, when he also pointed out how challenging it is for regulators to “balance the requirements of these new technologies with the existing framework of the government.”
Information from such a study could help the Department of Transportation, its Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Department of Public Works and Highways, and local government officials improve both the infrastructure and regulations that would make our daily rides better.
For regulators trying to catch up to innovations and disruptions in transport services, the International Transport Forum of the OECD shared this advice, among others: “Embrace data-led regulation to improve societal outcomes.”
We can all agree that safer, quicker rides from more accountable providers are desirable outcomes. Do consumer transport apps like Grab and Uber help communities attain these outcomes? These companies and the commuters who depend on them need the data to persuade policymakers and regulators.
The City of New York, for example, found some good news in a study released in January 2016: it learned that platform-based transportation services have not made its central business district more congested. But it also discovered projections that a rapid shift to these services would, without regulation, reduce the revenue the city needs to run its subway and bus systems effectively.
Sometime in April 2016, The World Bank announced that Grab would share real-time data that will help authorities “better manage traffic flows on the streets of Metro Manila and Cebu City.” That was supposed to include statistics on intersection delays, speeds, travel times, and high-risk areas for accidents. Did that OpenTraffic initiative move ahead or did it get stalled with the change in the national administration?