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Maintain the growth of these new services

 

 

THERE was a time when the only alternative to private cars were mass transit sys­tems like buses, jeepneys, trains, and taxis. Then came the era of Transport Net­work Vehicle Services (TNVS). Instead of looking for a taxi or calling a taxi company, one can now book a ride online through ride-hailing apps.

After Uber gave up its business in the Philippines, network giant Grab was joined by Hype and HirNa and other newcomers. All Transport Network Companies (TNCs) are regulated by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). All need to get a franchise from LTFRB – a three-month provisional authority followed by a one-year certificate of public convenience.

Lately, customers have been complaining about an increasing difficulty in hailing a ride, especially during peak hours, and the TNCs blame overregulation by the govern­ment. The LTFRB, they claim, limits the number of partner drivers who have to be shared by all TNCs in the country – a common supply base. The leading TNC reportedly has as many as 600,000 bookings a day but the LTFRB allows a common supply base of only 65,000 drivers.

Grab Philippines said it imposed a Php2-per-minute travel time fare component in 2017 to maintain the drivers’ income from being affected by traffic congestion and remote pick-up locations. This was suspended by the LTFRB, although the firm said the Depart­ment of Transportation authorized TNCs to set their own fares in a 2015 order.

The operating firms say the number of TNVS cars in Metro Manila have decreased and only four out of ten passengers are getting served for lack of drivers. Average pick-up time from booking confirmation to actual pickup increased in July to eight minutes. They blame over-regulation.

Transport network services, variously called “ride sourcing,” “ride sharing,” “ride sourc­ing,” and “ride hailing,” have spread around the world for providing a universally acces­sible service. There have been some opposition from taxi industry and other groups, but their services have been generally welcomed by many people seeking to avoid the difficulties of driving in a place like Metro Manila.

Their growth may have suffered setbacks in our country and they claim overregula­tion by the government – specifically limitations set by the LTFRB on the number of drivers in the common pool and on fares charged. It is a problem that must be faced with equitable solutions so as to maintain the continuity and growth of this new trans­portation service.

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