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LTFRB told to study Uber Taxi, other tech-driven transport platforms

An award-winning mayor from Valenzuela City has urged the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board or LTFRB to create a special accreditation procedure for “hybrid car pooling” service providers like Uber Taxi.


Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian said that instead of making it difficult for Uber, the LTFRB should instead put up a special office that will study and eventually regulate the operation of Uber Taxi and other online transport service.


“I suggest that LTFRB create a special procedure for the Uber providers instead of making it difficult for them. These providers provide a special service that the common carriers cannot fulfill. There is big demand for their type of service,” Gatchalian said.


Gatchalian, a member of the majority bloc in the House of Representatives, pointed out that Uber Taxi is not competing with the regular taxicabs since the online service is catering to high-end clients and Uber system came about because of this need.


Uber, which operates in 45 countries, launched its services that allow users to share a ride or hail private vehicles through its mobile app in Manila last March.


Its roster of service vehicles includes 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 upper middle class commuters.


Gatchalian said the LTFRB should prepare itself for more technology-driven public transport system and that Chairman Winston Ginez should now consider putting up an office that will study and manage technology-driven platforms.


“The LTFRB should embrace technology and not kill it. We will see more of these types of mobile applications and crowd-sourcing in future since high-end and discriminating clients want clean, safe, and efficient public transport system,” Gatchalian said.


“Uber fulfills this need to clients who want to pay the premium,” he added, saying the entry of Uber is a challenge to all taxi operators and drivers to improve their service.


The LTFRB apprehended several Uber units last week, saying the company did not apply for a franchise to operate as service vehicles. Operators of apprehended Uber vehicles will be made to pay P200,000 and the units will be impounded in LTO for three months.


Under Section 15 of the Public Service Act, no public service shall operate in the Philippines without possessing a valid and subsisting certificate from the appropriate board. In the case of public utility vehicles like the local units of Uber, the LTFRB is the governing board.


Gatchalian 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 service or Uber service, however, must secure a franchise because they are functioning as a common carrier as provided under current jurisprudence,” said Gatchalian. (R. Burgos)