Senators seek compromise between LTFRB, ride-hailing firms

Two senators said they will try to mediate to solve the current row between the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and ride-hailing firms Uber and Grab.

Credit: DOTr

Credit: DOTr

In a statement, Sen. Grace Poe said until the government is able to improve the country’s mass transportation, the LTFRB should defer its decision to disallow new applications from Grab and Uber drivers.

“We must acknowledge the fact that many of our commuters now rely on Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) to travel around the city. The companies provide services that taxi operators have been remiss to provide in the past decade — point-to-point pick-up and delivery, standardized fare, and safe and comfortable rides.

Poe, however, said regulation is still necessary and that the government should still control the number of private persons allowed to ply a route.

“If anybody can just operate transportation services for the public, we may have an oversupply of common carriers in one area, or a lack of transportation in another. It may also result in traffic congestion due to additional vehicles on the road,” she said.

The lady senator said the LTFRB should therefore strike a balance between regulating TNVS and “ensuring that the public need for safe, comfortable, and reliable transportation is met.”

For his part, Sen. JV Ejercito said he is calling for a meeting to mediate and come up with a compromise for both parties before July 26.

“I am not siding with anyone on this issue. What’s important to consider here is the convenience and safety of the riding public. We would consider all remedies without disregarding the law,” said Ejercito, the vice chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services.

Ejercito said he wants LTFRB, Grab, and Uber not only to reach a compromise, but also to act on their shortcomings in making public transportation more convenient and safe for the public.

“Grab and Uber offer far better and more convenient services than regular taxis. Ngayong may maayos naman na serbisyo na inoffer sa publiko, pipigilan naman ng LTFRB! Kung ganito kayo kaingay at kadesididong patawan ng service ban ang Grab at Uber, dapat ganito rin ang aksyon ninyo sa mga reklamo sa regular taxis!” said Ejercito.

Undeterred, the LTFRB said in a press statement said if Uber and Grab want to engage in the business of public transportation, they need to follow the rules just like any other type of public utility vehicles (PUVs).

The agency also clarified that the services of TNCs (Transport Network Companies) have not been suspended. However, only those with Provisional Authority (PA) or Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) may be allowed to operate.

“The TNCs agreed to fully comply with the rules at the time they were granted accreditation. With their open and candid admission, it is clear that they have broken those rules grossly, putting at risk the tens of thousands of TNVs without PA or franchise to commit colorum activities,” said LTFRB chairman Martin B. Delgra III.

At the accreditation hearing last July 11, the LTFRB slapped a P5-million fine each for Uber and Grab for its violations and ordered them to deactivate the more than 50,000 colorum TNVS drivers. This is on top of the ongoing moratorium imposed on accepting new applications.

“We cannot have one rule regarding colorum for them and another rule for the rest of the modes of public transport, i.e. bus, UV express, taxi and PUJ,” Delgra said. “Where service is imbued with public interest, no less than the safety and welfare of the riding public is concerned, regulations become priority,” he added.

Delgra likewise said that ride-hailing firms have to show good faith by complying first while LTFRB creates a Technical Working Group (TWG) to discuss issues such as accreditation and pending applications, and the core issues of accountability and dynamic pricing scheme as a way to move things forward.

“They have to show good faith first. Right now, they are not cooperating,” Delgra said. “The Board has welcomed the creation of a TWG to help address the demand of such mode of public transport in a rational, comprehensive and systematic manner. We expect the TNCs to be candid, accurate, complete and transparent in submitting all the data and information the Board will need in addressing the issues,” he added.

More than 20 TNVs have so far been apprehended for operating without a franchise.

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