LTO asked: Defer cap on driving school fees
A group of driving schools on Thursday appealed to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to postpone the April 15 enforcement of a cap on driving course rates, saying it could undermine their business operations and the quality of their services to student drivers.
At a press conference, Marie Franz Ochoco, president of the Association of Accredited Driving Schools Inc., asked the LTO to hold back Memorandum Circular No. JNT-2023-2390 until details of the new policy were fully discussed with the agency’s technical working group.
Under the new guidelines, the maximum prescribed rate for a 15-hour theoretical driving course (TDC) was pegged at P1,000.
For an eight-hour practical driving course (PDC), the maximum rates were set at P2,500 for motorcycles, P4,000 for light vehicles such as cars, and P8,000 for heavy vehicles like trucks and buses.
The LTO earlier said it consulted stakeholders before releasing the policy. But according to Ochoco, her group’s only “consultation meeting” with the government took place on March 14.
“We have been given the opportunity to give our suggestions. When the upcoming memorandum circular came out, there were topics that might have been overlooked or not revisited,” she said.
8 hours not enough
Ochoco said the group hoped to raise for further discussion the provision on the number of training hours, saying that based on their data the eight-hour minimum for practical training was not enough, especially for beginners with no background in driving.
The group also hoped to raise concerns over the maximum prescribed rates, particularly on value-added services for premium courses for which P4,000 may be too low.
“This includes the services for SUV type of vehicles and longer hours of training. For example, [some clients] demand that we teach them longer than eight hours, or ask for VIP treatment, such as [having us] pick them up and drop them off at their desired location,” she said.
LTO stands pat
But the LTO chief, Assistant Secretary Jay Art Tugade, stood firm on the April 15 implementation.
“It’s unlikely that we can defer implementation of the new driving school rates. LTO cannot turn a deaf ear to the calls of the greater majority against the prohibitively expensive driving school fees,” he said in a statement in Filipino.
Tugade said the new policy underwent a series of consultations with driving schools. “Contrary to the allegations that their inputs were disregarded or not considered by the LTO, the price of the TDC was increased based on their feedback,” he added,
He said the eight-hour requirement also went through a thorough study and that his agency had not received any complaints since it took effect in August 2020.
Also, he said, it is still up to the LTO to assess a new driver’s ability during the practical exam.
He also noted that the LTO was not barring driving schools from offering value-added services as long as the fees were within the allowable rates.
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