A champion of technological innovations in Valenzuela City has urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board or LTFRB to find a “win-win” solution to the ongoing dispute between ‘Uber Taxi’ and other online cab dispatchers.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian encouraged LTFRB officials to look at how local government units abroad are dealing with the same problem to address the beef of Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA), the main oppositor of ‘Uber Taxi’.
In a statement, Gatchalian proposed for LTFRB to take a hint from the local government of Belgium’s capital when it drafted the new rules that was done in consultation with other stakeholders.
“The LTFRB should closely monitor developments in other countries handling similar regulation issues with Uber and how they make the playing field even for everyone in the transportation industry, especially taxi drivers and operators,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian, a vice chair of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, said LTFRB, like Brussels, should be willing and ready to integrate Uber into the taxi sector if it pays taxes as it regulates taxis through safety checks, insurance, and social security to be paid by operators.
“The government should follow Brussels’ lead as it is set to draft new laws allowing Uber to operate alongside taxis,” Gatchalian pointed out.
The veteran lawmaker said LTFRB can also learn from local officials in Singapore, where authorities are looking to require Uber and other taxi-booking services to partner only with licensed drivers and vehicles.
Gatchalian, who was known to use technological innovations to improve government service in Valenzuela City, noted these are just among other new rules that are expected to take effect in Singapore next year that LTFRB can emulate.
‘Uber’, which now operates in 50 countries, launched its services in Manila last March.
The service allows users to share a ride or hail private vehicles through its mobile app. Uber’s roster of service vehicles include units of Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Montero, Toyota Camry, and the bulky Hummer.
The US-based startup, however, has been at odds with local taxi operators and authorities in some of the 200 cities where it operates, including Metro Manila where it immediately established a foothold and is fast gaining popularity among middle class commuters.
Last Monday, the LTFRB held its first hearing on issue of Uber and other online taxi apps. The meeting was attended by representatives of online taxi apps ‘GrabTaxi’, ‘EasyTaxi’, ‘Tripid’, ‘Tripda’, and ‘Uber’ as well as PNTOA.
At the end of the hearing, LTFRB Chairman Winston Gines directed those present to submit their position papers on the issue within 10 days.
Gatchalian had welcomed the earlier decision of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to work with ‘Uber’.
“Uber offers a revolutionary solution to some of Metro Manila’s traffic woes. That the DOTC is willing to embrace tech solutions while prioritizing the commuters’ welfare and safety is a welcome development,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian had pointed out that the owners of ‘Uber’ app do not need to secure a franchise because it is only an app used by people to get a taxi or an ‘Uber’ vehicle for that matter.
“Those who provide the taxi or ‘Uber’ services, however, must secure a franchise because they are functioning as a common carrier as provided under current jurisprudence,” said Gatchalian.
“There is a need to find a middle-ground, a win-win solution that would be beneficial not only to ‘Uber’ and regular taxis but to the riding public who deserve better service from operators of public transportation,” he added. (Monica Cantilero)