The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday said that it has decided to allow transport network vehicle services (TNVS) such as Grab and Uber to operate without getting apprehended pending their submission of their motions for reconsideration (MR).
Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services, made this confirmation after her panel called a closed-door meeting with representatives from the LTFRB and Grab and Uber to settle their disagreement over the former’s planned service ban.
Poe called for the meeting after colleague and Public Services committee vice chair Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito made the suggestion to meet as a “band-aid” solution for the current problem between LTFRB and the two TNVS firms.
“…Although the LTFRB will push through with executing their memorandum circular, they will allow the TNCs (transport network companies) to file their motion for reconsideration and pending the resolution of the latter, will allow existing colorum TNVS to continue providing service,” Poe said in a press statement.
In the same meeting, Poe said both parties agreed that they will continue with the technical working groups (TWGs) next week, in order to find a win-win solution for both government and the TNCs.
Meanwhile, Grab and Uber also vowed to share their data with the LTFRB so that the LTFRB will consider the actual number of TNVS on the road and not just the number of TNVS that have been accredited in crafting transport guidelines.
Poe, meanwhile, appealed to the public to allow LTFRB to do its job especially in regulating TNVS’ pricing scheme.
“Let us allow the LTFRB to do its job. They have to regulate common carriers to ensure accountability and to prevent the ‘dynamic pricing scheme’ of TNVS from overcharging passengers during peak hours,” Poe said.
However, she said that it was government’s duty to also be “forward-looking.”
“Ride-hailing services is now a necessity because these provide the comfort and reliability that many of our people look for in public transportation,” she added.
On Wednesday, Poe also filed Senate Bill No. 1501 or the Transportation Network Services Act, which seeks to institutionalize and regulate ride hailing services.
She said that both the LTFRB and TNCs have agreed to participate in future hearings when called.
The LTFRB earlier said that it will start apprehending Grab and Uber drivers without certificates of public convenience (CPC) or provisional authority (PA).
The board has also earlier imposed a Php5 Million fine each for Uber and Grab for allowing some of their drivers to operate without permits.
It has clarified that ride sharing services are not suspended but only those with CPCs or PAs may be allowed to operate.
Probe still eyed
Neophyte Sen. Joel Villanueva, for his part, filed a resolution calling for an inquiry on the process being followed by the LTFRB in granting franchises to TNVS.
Villanueva filed the resolution noting that the board’s decision has caused uproar among commuters who use the service of TNVs on their daily commute.
“We want to hear all the stakeholders to come up with the best solution to immediately address this problem. At the end of the day, we hope that there will be a fair compromise between the government and the TNVS providers with the end goal of providing more convenient options to our daily commuters,” Villanueva said in filing his measure.
He expressed hope that the inquiry would help resolve is the failure of the majority of TNVS to acquire PAs or CPCs from the LTFRB.
Citing a news report, Villanueva said that Grab reported that out of roughly 28,000 drivers, only about 4,000 Grab drivers have been granted a provisional authority or CPC. An estimated 72 percent of the TNVS are, thus, considered as “colorum.”
“We would like to know the reasons why the LTFRB has suddenly stopped granting permits to TNVS. Aside from that, we are also interested at how the TNVS could present a way of utilizing underutilized resources which the government may see as a source for potential tax revenue,” he added.
Meanwhile, the LTFRB is also in the process of creating a TWG to discuss issues such as accreditation and pending applications, and accountability and dynamic pricing scheme.
Senators Ejercito, Juan Edgardo Angara, Sherwin Gatchalian and Juan Miguel Zubiri have signified to co-author Villanueva’s resolution.
Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, who earlier expressed plans to call for a probe into the LTFRB-TNVS mess said that he was “happy” that all parties reached an immediate compromise.
Aquino said that what was left to do was to focus on a long term solution to ensure that the riding public is protected.
At present, more than 100,000 commuters have signed up in an online petition expressing their anger over LTFRB’s plan.