LTFRB clarifies Premium Taxi timing, unregistered Uber clampdown

Chrisee Dela Paz
'Neither DOTC nor LTFRB owns Premium Taxis. We just regulate them,' LTFRB chief Winston Ginez clarifies

MISINFORMED. There has been confused social media outrage on the timing of Premium Taxi category public consultation and scheduled unregistered Uber, GrabCar clampdown, LTFRB's Winston Ginez says. File photo from Agence France-Presse

MANILA, Philippines – Contrary to some news reports, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) clarified that the Premium Taxi category is not new and neither owned by the board nor the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez said in a text message Friday, August 14, that Premium Taxi and Transportation Network Vehicle System (TNVS) were introduced as new modes of public vehicles on May 8 – not after it announced a scheduled clampdown on unregistered Uber and GrabCar units. (READ: LTFRB to start unregistered Uber, GrabCar clampdown)

This is in response to some news reports that the LTFRB allegedly revealed plans of creating its own Premium Taxi operation, days after it announced the clampdown. 

Premium Taxi – a concept borrowed from the Seoul City Government – was introduced to “pose as a challenge to current regular taxi operators, pushing them to upgrade and improve their operations,” Ginez said.

“While we open franchising for Uber, GrabCar, and other ride-sharing service providers, we are giving taxi operators the same opportunity for them to have new franchises, albeit with high-quality taxi units and improved operation,” he added.

Here is a timeline of events:

‘LTFRB does not own Premium Taxi’

LTFRB also clarified that it will only regulate Premium Taxi operations, not own it.

“Neither DOTC nor LTFRB owns Premium Taxis. They will be owned by private citizens whom we will issue a franchise provided they pass stringent qualification requirements. We just regulate them,” Ginez said, clarifying an CNN Philippines news report, which was updated Friday morning.

“With all due respect, the roll out of Premium Taxi is not a racket. It will usher a modern taxi with standards comparable if not better than the premium taxis of other countries,” Ginez said.

What was announced in June is an invitation for stakeholders to attend a public consultation on finalizing the draft regulations on Premium Taxi category, Ginez said. 

Public consultations are conducted to hear concerns of all stakeholders before the regulatory board finalizes new rules and regulations.

“We started drafting rules in July and we have not finalized these (Premium Taxi rules) yet,” Ginez told Rappler.

LTFRB explains deadline for unregistered Uber, GrabCar

Ginez also clarified in his Facebook post that Premium Taxi category is not the reason his board set an August 20 deadline for unregistered Uber and GrabCar partner cars to secure the necessary franchise or provisional authority.

“In apprehending unregistered Uber and GrabCar vehicles, [this move] will not put Uber or GrabCar out of business. The introduction of premium taxis won’t kill Uber or GrabCar,” Ginez said.

This will just serve a warning for the operators to apply for the necessary franchise or provisional authority, he added.

It has been 3 months since the implementation of TNVS, but there are still operators who have not applied for TNVS accreditation.

Despite their non-compliance with the regulations, the private vehicles accredited by Uber and GrabCar are plying and earning from the service of public transportation, without the requisite franchise, the LTFRB chairman said.

“Though the regulations were issued in May, only GrabCar applied for accreditation as of today. But despite its accreditation as a transportation network company (TNC), GrabCar’s partner vehicles are yet to apply for franchise with LTFRB,” Ginez said.

“Application fee for TNVS like Uber and GrabCar is P520.00 for first two units and P70.00 for each succeeding unit. No other fee is required to be paid other than the application fee,” he added.

On the part of Uber, it said it is confident of completing requirements for accreditation before the deadline.

These processes take time and don’t happen overnight. Unfortunately, I can’t share more details on this at the moment,” Uber Spokesperson Karun Arya responded in an email why it has not applied for accreditation yet.

Asked if Uber is against Premium Taxi, Arya replied: “This isn’t something that concerns us or something we would have a comment on.” – Rappler.com

Join MovePH’s Twitter Conversation on Friday, August 14, at 4:30 pm. Using #CommuterWatch, we will discuss the different problems experienced by Filipino commuters.