Before jumping into the pros and cons of the service, I will try to shortly explain what is a service.
The “service” is a method of public transport in Lebanon. A person who wishes to move within Beirut, for example, has to stop a car and communicates where he or she wants to go. If the driver accepts the destination, the person hops in and the default cost will be 2,000 Lebanese Lira. One service is 2,000 L.L.
If the driver is not happy with the destination (not on his way, too far), he or she can either just drive away and the person wishing to move waits for another car, or the driver can try to negotiate.
The driver will either negotiate with the destination (I can drop you in X place but not further), or usually with the price. The driver could ask “two services”, which costs 4,000 L.L.
A service can be shared with other occupants.
A service can be “transformed” into a Taxi, if both parties agree. One could stop one taxi / service car and just say that you want a taxi to X destination. The default price of a Taxi is 8,000 L.L This can also comes under “negotiation”, the driver can simply rejects it or try to elevate the price. A taxi is usually negotiated for longer distances or if someone wants a ride alone or a straight A to B path. (and of course if the persons has the means for a taxi)
The pros of the Service:
- The driver has power into deciding if a trip will be cost effective or not, (with regards to time, traffic, distance).
- A car can be filled into its full capacity, a service might be much “greener” than a taxi, only filled with one or two persons most of the time.
- More availability for people seeking to move. A car with one person or two doesn’t mean that you cannot take the service. With taxis, a car occupied by one single person is not even an option.
- You could go to a place and the price that you pay would be actually less than the real price to move there (in terms of gas). (this is due to the very grey area of what a service in distance actually represents).
The cons of the service:
- For other drivers, the service is disruptive. Most of Beirut streets are narrow, meaning that a service that stops and negotiate with a prospective occupant takes time and disrupts drivers behind.
- You could be paying for more than the trip deserves, but again, this is all due to the grey area of what a service actually means in terms of distance.
- The driver seeks other occupants and might not take the straightest path to your destination. So a service can be actually less cost-efficient than a taxi if there is a single occupant. And usually, it is slower for all occupants.
- Although the system is clear, some drivers tweak it and began asking more money because of traffic, or just because they consider that the price ought to be higher.
- The driver can decide to suddenly drop you somewhere because he or she found new occupants that are judged to be more profitable. This means two things: you could be dropped closer to your destination without paying anything. Or you could be somehow further than where you were originally. In both ways, this means that the person has to find a new service, which is not a very practical way to move.
We live in a sexist world and society where survivors of harassment (mostly women) have to struggle through other sexist institutions to have their voices heard or to have justice. This of course is also true to public transport.
- Taxis / Service should have a place where they could stop and talk with prospective occupants.
- There should be a system where occupants can’t be evicted from the service and where drivers can’t suddenly change the cost of the service.
- Cars have to be traced back by only the occupants. The car number and the name of the driver have to be visible inside the car. Any harasser would be apprehended with more ease. (I do not support any kind of citizen police).
People living in Lebanon have of course more ways to move within cities and between cities. Public transport can be more pleasant, fairer and must keep its low prices.
Finally, it is self evident that if we want to have a more pleasant ride for all, the number of cars have to be reduced, including taxi / services cars. This can happens through the expansion of public transport like dedicated lines for buses, trains, tramways.