So the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has finally caved in on the controversial issue of apprehending colorum operators of popular ride-sharing platforms like Grab and Uber. But it sure took a ton of pressure, not to mention trending hashtags like #WeWantUberGrab and #WeDeserveBetter before the government agency heeded the public’s call. Some celebrities even joined the fray to express their outrage.
Due to this, our politicians thankfully took notice, with the likes of Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Senate's Committee on Public Services, siding with the embattled Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) industry.
This led to a Senate inquiry on Wednesday where the issue was fully tackled with all parties involved during a closed-door meeting. After this, Sen. JV Ejercito, who called for the meeting, said the LTFRB has agreed to wait for the appeal from TNVS companies on the matter.
"After a brief meeting, the LTFRB said they will just wait for Grab and Uber to file for a Motion for Reconsideration, which in effect would legally suspend and extend the execution of LTFRB's July 11 order. They will continue to talk to each other to come up with a better long-term solution."
Simply put, this means that the tens of thousands of ride-sharing drivers, operators, and their countless customers can rest easy for the time being since Grab and Uber were allowed to continue their operations.
However, this temporary compromise doesn’t mean that the LTFRB won’t continue running after the TNVS industry. Although both parties have committed to create a technical working group, we’re not really sure how long this tense truce will last.
Hopefully, it does but the problem on the issuance of Certificates of Public Convenience (CPC) and Provisional Authorities (PA) should first be ironed out. Both Grab and Uber have apparently disregarded the LTFRB’s moratorium last year when the agency halted processing these mandatory documents that permit new TNVS applicant’s to operate.
To be fair, the LTFRB did this to investigate complaints on alleged overcharges in surge pricing. But it’s already been a year and there have been no significant developments while the public demand for more ride-sharing services only continues to grow.
All of this resulted in the number of operators to balloon to over 50,000, where only around 3,000 are accredited for. In short, the livelihood of over 90 percent of TNVS operators are in limbo until everything gets resolved.
If this doesn’t get settled soon then it might be back to the LTFRB’s old stance. It also doesn’t help that LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III was adamant on pinning the blame on the TNVS industry for not following the rules, despite providing a much safer and comfortable alternative to our traditional taxis which the public asked for.
The end result: a lose-lose situation where the LTFRB starts cracking down on the TNVS industry, which forces them to close shop, and we ultimately end up getting stuck with taxis that mostly have rude and choosy drivers.
Here’s to hoping that Senate Bill No. 1501 or the Transportation Network Services Act, which was filed by Poe to institutionalize and regulate ride hailing services, will take effect before then to protect the interests of the riding public.