Nationalist People’s Coalition Congressman Win Gatchalian has filed a bill classifying transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and GrabCar and their accredited vehicles as public utility that are liable for breaches of contract in order to protect the riding public.
Gatchalian filed last week House Bill No. 6160, to be known as the “Transportation Network Service Act”, which declares TNCs as common carriers along with transportation network vehicle operators, even as they deny liability by saying it is only a technological platform to connect passengers with drivers.
“The TNCs cannot have their cake and eat it too. They must be responsible for the service they provide and held liable for any breach on the contract of carriage,” said Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.
HB 6160 sets the contract of carriage from the time a passenger makes a pre-arranged ride with the TNC and ends when the vehicle carrying the passenger arrives at the designated location.
Liability, which is not limited to actual and moral damages and indemnity for loss of earning capacity, is shared jointly by the company and the vehicle owner/operator with the driver as defined under HB 6160.
Gatchalian’s bill also requires the accreditation of TNCs with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for a fee that will be set by the agency. Accreditation is renewable and valid for two years.
“It is our intention to ensure that regulation is not a hindrance, but continues to be the safety net that the public can rely on for their protection,” Gatchalian noted.
HB 6160 obliges TNCs to disclose their fare calculation method in its application service or Website and to display a picture of the driver and the vehicle’s plate number.
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TNCs shall also maintain a commercial liability insurance policy to cover claims for incidents involving vehicle and drivers while they are providing services. Any insurance policy shall also cover claims of passengers for breach of contract of carriage per incident coverage. Each driver shall also have an insurance coverage.
Under HB 6160, TNCs will also be required to transmit to passengers after the trip’s completion an electronic receipt containing the trip’s origin and destination, the total time and distance of the trip, and an itemization of total fare paid.
The “Transportation Network Service Act” also sets driver requirements, prohibiting TNCs from accepting as drivers people who have been convicted of committing reckless driving, driving without license or under the influence of alcohol or prohibited drugs, as well as evading arrest or detention, in the last three years.
Potential drivers should also not be convicted at any time of fraud, sexual offense, or theft. Those without a valid professional driver’s license and a proof of registration for the vehicle to be used cannot also be given permit by the TNC.
Taxicabs, limousines, and similar for-hire vehicles using digital networks for pre-arranged rides are also covered by the bill. (Monica Cantilero)