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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Traditional taxi companies may soon face increased competition, as the government on Monday, May 11, announced the introduction of 4 new transport categories aimed at easing traffic congestion through “efficient use of road space.”
These new categories are the “Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS), Premium Taxi, Airport Bus, and Bus Rapid Transit,” Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said in media briefing.
‘TNVS’ ride-sharing services
TNVS will cover vehicles that provide pre-arranged transportation services for compensation, using an online-enabled application or platform technology to connect passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles, Abaya said.
These new rules will also allow ride-sharing service providers to accept regular passengers heading to any point of destination in the country, Abaya added.
Operators of TNVS, called Transportation Network Companies, are also required to screen and accredit drivers and register them with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
All TNVS vehicles will also be required to install and use global positioning system (GPS) tracking and navigation devices. Only sedans, Asian Utility Vehicles, Sports Utility Vehicles, vans, or similar vehicles will be allowed, and these should not be older than 7 years.
The new framework makes the Philippines the first country to have nationwide rules on ride-sharing, according to both the Philippine transport department and Uber. Previously, only local and city governments have regulated the services.
In a statement, Uber Senior Vice-President David Plouffe hailed the Philippine action, which he said would “advance urban mobility, create new economic opportunity, and put rider safety first.”
DOTC will on Wednesday, May 12 publicly issue the new country-wide guidelines for the likes of Uber and GrabTaxi.
Premium taxi, airport bus
Other than TNVS, DOTC said it will also introduce another transport category for traditional taxi companies to allow them “to compete with TNVS.”
Called Premium Taxi, vehicles with a 7-year age limit under this new category will be equipped with GPS, online and smartphone booking capability, and cashless transactions through credit or debit card payments.
Like TNVS, premium taxis will be allowed to accept regular passengers heading to any point of destination in the country, Abaya said.
To meet high demand during peak hours at the terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airports (NAIA), the DOTC also created a new transport category called Airport Bus.
This was after the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) started allowing unaccredited white metered taxis to pick up passengers at the arrival areas of NAIA terminals 2 and 3 due to the passengers’ appeals.
Vehicles under the Airport Bus category “should have fixed schedules and off-street stops, low-floor height and adequate luggage space, CCTV cameras, GPS device, free WiFi, and must run on Euro V or clean alternative fuel.”
Abaya pointed out that Green Frog has expressed interest in the airport bus service that would ply three areas including Makati City, Mall of Asia (MOA) as well as Bonifacio Global City (BGC) or Ortigas business center.
Bus rapid transit
The government is also planning to build more bus rapid transit (BRT) systems in the country, prompting it to dedicate a separate transport classification starting week of May 11.
The DOTC awarded in April the design and construction supervision contract of the P10.62-billion ($237.88 million) Cebu BRT to South Korea’s Kunhwa Engineering & Consulting Company Limited. Cebu BRT is targeted for completion in the first quarter of 2018.
“We’re eyeing more of BRTs in the country, as it is seen to help decongest traffic and modernize the transportation services in the Philippines,” Abaya said.
Other than Cebu BRT, Abaya added that a detailed engineering design on a BRT between Quezon City and Manila is set to be completed, per the National Economic and Development Authority’s approval.
“The third BRT we’re eyeing is the C5 Modern BRT System, which is also for NEDA approval,” he said, and added that DOTC is still finalizing the route for this.
BRTs use dedicated lanes for buses and are intended as a cheaper substitute for commuter trains.
“We can boost mobility by promoting high-quality systems that efficiently transport large volumes of passengers. These new bus categories are cost-effective solutions that can cut down travel time, aid in decongesting clogged streets,” Abaya said in a separate statement.
Current modes of public land transportation service are bus, jeepney, UV (utility vehicle) express, school transport service, and taxi.
Operators of the new transport categories “will still be required to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) for every vehicle. Drivers must also be screened, accredited, and registered with the LTFRB,” Abaya said.
“These new categories aren’t created to ruin the old taxi industry. We’re implementing these new categories to promote innovation and modernization,” he added. – with a report from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com
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