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DoTC: Taxis must upgrade vs Uber

/ 04:00 AM November 20, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Taxi operators should modernize and improve their services instead of opposing technology solutions like ride-sharing app Uber.

“People prefer to use these tech-based transport services because they are more convenient. It’s that simple. So my advice to taxi operators: Modernize, innovate and improve your systems and services,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said in a statement on Wednesday.

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“Commuters say they feel safer taking these private vehicles-for-hire, that the fleet are newer, that app services are faster and more efficient. So why put a stop to what is clearly for their benefit? Poorer services should be upgraded to match their competition—not the other way around,” he added.

Abaya’s statement was the latest effort by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to show that it was open to new technology solutions after the arrest last month of a private vehicle owner who had partnered with Uber. The incident drew intense criticism, mainly from Netizens.

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The DOTC’s stance, however, also comes at a time when Uber is facing negative publicity worldwide.

It is currently under fire overseas for comments reportedly made by one of its executives on how the firm can finance smear campaigns against journalists critical of it and how Uber personnel can access customers’ private travel information.

“We have not, do not and will not investigate journalists. Those remarks have no basis in the reality of our approach,” an Uber spokesperson said in an e-mail to Inquirer, referring to statements reportedly made by Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice president of business, at a private event. The incident was first reported by Buzzfeed.

Uber further clarified its privacy policy in a Nov. 18 blog post. “Uber has a strict policy prohibiting all employees at every level from accessing a rider or driver’s data. The only exception to this policy is for a limited set of legitimate business purposes. Our policy has been communicated to all employees and contractors,” it said.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is set to hold a hearing on Nov. 24 in line with a plan to update its rules to accommodate technology solutions like Uber, a ride-sharing service available in several countries.

The LTFRB has identified the existing “vehicles-for-hire” category as the likely classification for Uber vehicles, it said. While considered “colorum” since these vehicles are operating without a transport franchise, the LTFRB has not taken any further action since the DOTC signaled its intention to work with the service.

Ginez earlier said that the arrest in Manila stemmed from complaints filed by various groups, including the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association.

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Uber has been facing challenges and even protests in other parts of the world, mainly by taxi operators, who say it and other similar apps allow the operation of illegal public transportation services which are regulated and require a government franchise or permit.

During a recent hearing, congressmen criticized the LTFRB for allowing Uber to operate in the country despite the fact that its vehicles may be considered colorum.

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TAGS: Motoring, Ride-Sharing App, Taxi Operators, technology, Technology Solutions, Uber
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