Gov?t officials meet with Uber execs to ?modernize? local transport

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Officials from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) met with officers of Uber on Monday, Nov. 10, in an attempt to find ways to support ? rather than stifle ? innovations in the transport sector.

LTFRB chair Winston Ginez and DOTC sec. Jun Abaya in a meeting with Uber executives
LTFRB chair Winston Ginez and DOTC sec. Jun Abaya in a meeting with Uber executives

?We will always push for anything that modernizes the country?s transport systems under my watch. Government welcomes tech solutions to transport problems, and fortunately, Uber also wants to work with us to make it happen,? remarked DOTC sec. Jun Abaya.

?Both sides came to the table to find concrete ways to make government regulations more in tune with today?s technologies. We all agreed on two things: first, Uber?s services are for the people?s benefit; and second, regulation is a must for public safety and order,? he added.

LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez and executive director Roberto Cabrera, who both participated in the meeting, proposed several means by which applicable rules may be updated in order to accommodate similar IT-based solutions within the legal framework.

The LTFRB officials indicated that such services may fall under the existing ?vehicle-for-hire? category, and that the corresponding rules could be updated in order to encourage the use of similar technologies across other public land transport services, including taxis.

?The LTFRB made it clear that government regulation is a must where public services are concerned. After all, this is not only a requirement of law, it is meant to protect the public,? Abaya said.

Uber?s representatives shared their previous experiences in other countries which likewise clamped down on the tech company?s unregulated services, citing new legislation in the United States as well as the adjusted policies in Singapore, to show that both long-term and immediate reforms are possible in the Philippines.

The LTFRB will now craft an updated set of rules applicable to vehicles-for-hire which would accommodate modern tech solutions, while Uber will submit reforms done in other countries to likewise modernize their own land transport regulations.

All sides agreed that ensuring passenger safety remains the top priority. Thus, safety measures will include Uber?s current practices of requiring passenger insurance to be provided by each of its partner drivers, as well as safety inspections to ensure the roadworthiness of their vehicles. The LTFRB also wants access to the identities of Uber drivers for security reasons.

?Our aim is to encourage the use of even more technologies and innovations across all forms of public land transport. Our taxi reform program, for instance, could adopt similar services such as centralized booking, passenger access to driver identities, and tracking systems for lost-and-found items,? Abaya added.

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