By Denise A. Valdez
SAKAY.PH is launching its redesigned mobile application to include the latest transportation developments and new features designed to make it easier for commuters to travel within Metro Manila.
“We sort of see, especially in Metro Manila, that the way forward for transport is a multi-modal path. Meaning to say we have to work with not just jeepneys, but trains, buses, P2P (point-to-point), even ride-sharing services like Grab and the new ones that are coming out, to get people from point A to B,” Sakay.ph cofounder and product development head Philip A. Cheang told BusinessWorld in an interview.
When the app was first launched in 2013, Mr. Cheang said it included step-by-step commuting directions in Metro Manila but only for jeepneys, buses and trains.
With the new version, he said the app includes UV Expresses, point-to-point (P2P) buses, the Pasig River Ferry, and some e-jeepneys.
Mr. Cheang said the company is in talks with ride-hailing companies to integrate their services in the Sakay.ph app. It also hopes to allow users to get rides from these companies through their app, before the end of the year.
The company also aims to expand its coverage to include the provinces, which means integrating the routes of provincial buses in its system. As of now, Sakay.ph only shows commute routes in Metro Manila and some parts of Laguna, Bulacan, Cavite and Rizal.
Mr. Cheang noted the app now has over a million users since Sakay.ph started, and is now close to doubling the figure with the redesign of the app. Sakay.ph available for iOS, Android and Web.
“The redesign is not only about adding new goals. It’s also about hitting the old goals that we wanted,” Kenneth G. Yu, cofounder of Sakay.ph and head of business development, told BusinessWorld.
In redesigning the app, the company sought to improve the users’ experience. For instance, one of the app’s features is allowing users to pick their priority modes of transportation. This feature is now ”front and center” in the redesigned app.
Another feature is setting the time when a user intends to travel, so the operating hours of the transportation alternatives are considered in the route suggestions.
The company is currently working on its own mapping engine for the app.
“We’ve been making efforts to build upon our own map imagery… If we build a really good product, I think there will be an opportunity for us to provide this platform to other people,” Mr. Cheang said.
So far, he said their own map imagery is only available on the Web version of Sakay.ph, as its mobile application still uses Google Maps. The company is targeting to make this available on the mobile version by next month.
The company is also looking into integrating advertisements in the app to generate revenues, but is still finding a way to do so without putting pop-ups and banners which may be distraction to those using Sakay.ph.
Sakay.ph is the winner of the government’s Philippine Transit App Challenge in 2013. It was created by software development company By Implication, Inc.