PH taxi industry protests new rules

Chrisee Dela Paz
The government says taxi operators 'should improve and modernize their services' rather than fight regulations

TAXI PROTEST. DOTC Spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal says if regular taxi cabs cannot beat ride-sharing service providers, like Uber, they should join them. File photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine taxi industry is at odds with the government on the regulations of the new transport category for ride-sharing service providers such as Uber, GrabTaxi and Easy Taxi.

“They are giving us an unfair fight. Regular taxi operators went through tedious process and inspection just to get franchise for our units. Foreign companies, like Uber, are given leeway, while local operators had difficult time just to get license,” Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA) President Jesus Manuel Bong Suntay said in a phone interview.

The government earlier 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.

After the announcement, the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) also in May laid out the rules and regulations for the new transport categories.

Under the guidelines, those who want to operate a TNVS should always be in good standing with its accredited Transportation Network Company (TNC). “The franchise for the TNVS will be revoked if the accreditation is cancelled by the TNC or if the certificate of the TNC is revoked by the Board,” the LTFRB memorandum circular read.

Equal, fair fight

“That regulation is unfair. Why is the TNC accrediting TNVS? Shouldn’t it be LTFRB? Regular taxi cabs are being accredited by LTFRB. It should be the same with TNVS,” Suntay said.

“In addition, LTFRB limited the number of units every regular taxi operator should have. But with TNCs, there is no limit. Why is that the case? This just goes to show that there is an unfair treatment,” Suntay said.

“The government is even allowing them [Uber vehicles] to ply even if they still haven’t applied for accreditation. In fact, dapat hulihin sila because they are still considered colorum,” Suntay added.

The chief of PNTOA, however, clarified that the taxi industry is “not against the ride-sharing service providers, we are just asking them to do it legally.”

“The only thing we want is an equal and fair fight,” he added.

Suntay said his association has already asked the transportation department and LTFRB “to change the regulations for TNVS and give us a fair fight, but they did not hear us.”

Here to stay

Despite the local taxi industry’s bid to change the TNVS regulations, transportation spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal said that his department accepts that ride-hailing applications like Uber, GrabTaxi, Easy Taxi and Tripda, are part of the contemporary landscape. Sagcal added that technological developments that enabled Uber “are here to stay.”

“We understand the threat that taxi operators feel due to the TNVS classification as concern about their business interests. The government’s concern, however, is providing better commuting options,” Sagcal said.

Rather than fight the government over these ride-sharing service apps, the taxi industry should modernize and improve its services, he said. 

“The public taxi operators should improve and modernize their servces rather than deprive the public of an efficient safe comfortable transport options,” Sagcal said. – Rappler.com

Black and yellow taxi card with taxi car image from Shutterstock