Koko tells LTFRB to fast-track entry of new ride-hailing firms

With ride-hailing pioneer Uber exiting the country next week, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III urged on Wednesday, April 4, the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to fast-track the entry of other transport network vehicle service (TNVS) players to ensure competition and reasonable prices for local users.

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III

“There is a legitimate fear among regular TNVS users that Grab’s acquisition of Uber’s operations in the country will lead to higher fares, which is the natural consequence when a player monopolizes a particular industry,” said Pimentel.

The lawmaker said that many regular TNVS users regularly compare the rates of Uber and Grab before booking a ride — an option that will no longer be available to commuters when Grab becomes the sole TNVS provider come April 9.

On March 26, Singapore-based Grab acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia operations, covering ride-sharing services in the Philippines, as well as Uber’s operations in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Uber’s last day of operations in the Philippines will be on April 8.

Pimentel said that given these developments, it was incumbent upon the LTFRB to work overtime to process pending TNVS applications and to ensure that Grab would not take advantage of its monopoly of the TNVS industry.

“The LTFRB announcement that there are three new ride-sharing companies that want to enter the country can only be considered good news if any or all of these companies actually get to service our countrymen,” said Pimentel.

Pimentel said the LTFRB should strike a balance between encouraging the entry of new players and the need for these players to comply with the country’s TNVS guidelines.

“We need real competition, not potential competition. As long as riders have zero options, they will be vulnerable to overpricing and poor service — and this is where the LTFRB must come in.”

According to the legislator, LTFRB should also pay close attention to feedback from TNVS users and put in mechanisms to immediately act on rider complaints.

“Social media has provided the LTFRB with the tools to monitor the prices and the performance of Grab after Uber exits. But the real test will be how they respond to the feedback from commuters. They should be ready to act on complaints to discourage Grab and its drivers from violating TNVS rules and regulations.”

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