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Poe to LTFRB: 'Explain the math' behind cap on ride-hailing vehicles

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe urged the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to "explain the math" behind the 45,700-cap on cars under ride-hailing companies.

On Monday, January 22, Poe said the LTFRB should be transparent in its decisions, citing the Executive Order on freedom of information (FOI).

"In this age of algorithms, LTFRB should make public the factual basis of its decision. Ilabas nila ang minutes ng meetings and consultations para alam ng publiko. (They should put out the minutes of the meetings and consultations so the public knows)," said Poe.

"Such disclosure of a public document is what the FOI rules, issued by the President, require. Tulad namin dito sa Senado (Like here in the Senate), ang transcripts are made public. Walang (None are) censored or hidden," she added.

Poe said that she's not questioning the decision, rather just asking the LTFRB to explain the scientific basis of cap.

"Malaki na ang inunlad ng data science, kaya maraming interesadong malaman kung ano ang justifications. Isang importanteng tanong: Ano ang baseline data na ginamit? Ano ang forecast model for future demand ang ginamit?" she said.

(Data science has greatly improved that's why many people are interested to know what are the justifications. One important question is: What was the baseline data used? What forecast model for future demand was used?)

On Thursday, January 18, the LTFRB released a memorandum circular setting a "common supply base", limiting the number of cars operating under Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) to 45,700.

Impact

Poe highlighted the possible impact on both drivers and patrons of the service.

The senator asked if consultations with patrons were done by the regulatory agency. "If the most important components in the ride-sharing business, the customers, were consulted, was there a survey? Was the pulse of those who'll be affected were taken into account?" Poe said in a mix of Engish and Filipino.

LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lizada explained that the numbers were computed based on the data submitted by ride-hailing application companies and the "churning rate" of drivers which takes into account those who decided to quit driving. (EXPLAINER: LTFRB requirements for Grab, Uber permits)

Poe noted that the review should not be based on the churning rate but through an algorithm that determines demand and supply. 

"Given that there are currently about 100,000 TNVS combined, and this number is not enough to satisfy the demand of the public, then we should start with that as the base and adjust accordingly," she said.

Units registered under Grab Philippines and Uber are around 125,000, exceeding the cap two times over.

The memorandum is the latest move by the LTFRB in an attempt to regulate ride-hailing apps like Grab and Uber. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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