The Backpacking Pinoy’s Dream: An App for Commuting Around the Country

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Anyone who’s done a bit of international travel will have been told that the easiest way to get to know a place is to get around using public transportation. This is the reason why riding the train has become popular in New York, Singapore, and London – other than it being more convenient and safe for the environment, of course.

In the Philippines, it’s quite a different story. There’s been a lot of debate recently about whether or not investing more money into the MRT system is worth it, and how exactly we can alleviate the congestion of highways in major cities. Everyone knows that public transportation is great for such a populous country, but let’s face it: with so many jeepney routes, shuttle and FX services, and tricycles and pedicabs, it’s still quite easy to get lost while using public transportation here. Wouldn’t it be great if you just had one great resource for all things commute-related?

Some may have heard of Sakay.ph, the innovative web app that worked in a way similar to Google Maps: you enter the name of your point of origin, and then your destination, and the app will give you the route to take, and how long your estimated travel time will be. It takes things a step further, though, by giving you detailed instructions on where to get a ride, and which rides to take. It even goes as far as to tell you the routes of the jeepneys and buses you should be flagging down.

But Sakay.ph has its downsides: 1) It isn’t complete. The developers say “the data is graciously provided by the DOTC, ASTI, etc., and is out of our control” so unless the DOTC starts giving them data on places outside of Luzon, the app is useless to backpackers. And 2) It’s a web app. While it functions perfectly well on a browser, the only way to “go mobile” with Sakay.ph is to use SMS.

It actually begs the question: why hasn’t Sakay.ph been turned into a mobile app? Total Gold’s parent company, Gaming Realms, has said that growth in mobile internet is one of most powerful trends in the internet landscape to date, while other research has shown that we might be seeing over 83% of all internet usage being done on mobiles by 2015. Thanks to cheaper phones being manufactured, 50% of Filipinos are expected to own a smartphone by 2015. It really makes more sense to turn Sakay.ph into a mobile app.

The app could be community-driven, with users given the ability to add newly discovered transport routes. If possible, the app should also download all the information to the user’s phone. At least this way, even if you’re out and about with no WiFi or data services, you’ll have access tp the rides you want to take.

Alas, it looks like we’ll have to wait, as there’s no news from the developers as to whether or not they’re developing a mobile counterpart for Sakay.ph.

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