U-Hop operations suspended in Batangas

MANILA, Philippines – The Batangas City Council has suspended the operations of ride-hailing app U-Hop in the province.

In a statement on Friday, February 16, Batangas City Councilor Oliver Macatangay said U-Hop has yet to secure Certificates of Public Convenience from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Macatangay said the council would only allow U-Hop to resume operations in Batangas once they secure the necessary LTFRB requirement.

U-Hop Sales and Operations head Nick Laude confirmed that their operations in Batangas had been temporarily suspended since February 6, pending the approval of their business permit.

Laude said U-Hop will submit the company's position paper to Macatangay within the week. "We have raised these to our legal team, who will submit our position paper to the committee head within the current week as requested by the city council," he said.

U-Hop started operating with 15 units of hatchback vehicle Hyundai Eon "after they received a go-signal to operate" during a Senate committee hearing on Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS), said Laude. Their franchise has been since been pending, according to the Batangas City Council.

"It was just verbal communication. We have no black and white documents to present to them [Batangas City Council]," he said.

The LTFRB granted U-Hop a license to operate as a transport network company (TNC) in March 2016.

On July 11, 2017, LTFRB stopped accepting franchise applications for new ride-hailing app drivers.

U-Hop announced its shuttle services after the order on July 15, 2017, as the government continued its crackdown on Grab and Uber units operating without franchises. (READ: What's the fuss about the Grab, Uber regulation issue?)

In August 2017, the Senate committee on public services held a hearing on the LTFRB's franchise rules. (READ: TIMELINE: Why only Uber is suspended)

In October 2017, the regulatory board issued a cease and desist order to U-Hop to stop accepting new driver applications, upholding the memorandum on July 11, 2017.

The LTFRB recently raised the number of allowed TNVS franchise to 66,750, giving some 59,000 slots to Grab and Uber drivers whose applications had been pending since July 2017. The remaining slots will be given to U-Hop and new operators interested to apply for the franchise. – with reports from Aika Rey/Rappler.com