The GrabTrike option on the Grab app could serve as your online resource for holding tricycles to the fare matrix that’s probably posted for public reference but only in locations familiar to locals. Regulated by local government units, tricycle fares are intended to be fair. That’s a given. But with no easy access, no quick read on what these fares ought to be, the commuter is basically at the mercy of the tricycle driver and the prices he may quote.

It’s something that comes with a learning curve, figuring out standard fare after several trips to similar points, over what seem like equivalent distances. But when you disembark from long haul transport and want to take the countryside’s equivalent to the city’s taxicabs, that’s when asking around for how much so-and-so costs becomes a big old canary—something that marks you as,  well, as a mark.

So, you usually just get in the trike, trying to look like a local, and then just ask how much fare is when you get at your destination, like it was just a lapse in memory. If the fare sounds exorbitant, you have the option of haggling and maybe making a scene, but you’re already behind the curve at that point.

Enter GrabTrike. Even if you end up not actually using the service, firing up the Grab app and thumbing in origin and destination points, will show you the estimated fare for your trip (add the P25 Grab fee if you want to actually book it, or save it if you don’t). Presto! You’ve got a number to work with.

Here a suggestion for going native: if you want to keep looking like a local, round off the number to the nearest P5. Say it like, “di ba P65 lang?!” if the driver looks like he’s trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Even if the right fare is pesos less, you get to leave behind a consolation tip.

So far, Grab has been able to deploy the service only in Pampanga. If you think about it, their efforts to represent obscure fare matrices with their simplifying algorithms are already a public service in itself. Here’s hoping they roll out GrabTrike in other locales as well, and soon.

And, come to think of it, the same argument can be said of GrabTaxi where taxicabs do ply city streets. Even if you don’t actually use the service, running their app and checking the estimated fare for your trip gives you a fair estimate, sans the booking fee, assuming traffic conditions stay generally the same from start to finish.