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‘Regular’ cab operators eye lawsuit over Uber

/ 05:32 AM May 14, 2015

“Traditional” taxi cab owners are up in arms over the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) order allowing smartphone ridesharing applications like Uber, Grabcab, East Taxi and Tripda to legally operate in the Philippines.

According to Jesus “Bong” Suntay, president of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association, they may file a case against the DOTC and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for not taking into consideration the impact of letting Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) operate in the country.

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“We are now relegated to second choice,” Suntay said on Wednesday as the DOTC released the order legitimizing the operations of smartphone ridesharing applications. The move also marked the first time a country created a framework to accommodate technology transit services, according to an Uber official.

The DOTC order outlined the new classifications, including those covering the so-called Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) like Uber, Grabcar, Easy Taxi and Tripda.

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In an earlier interview, Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya had said the move would allow TNC “to exist within our regulatory framework” while the LTFRB would be able to start finalizing a memorandum circular outlining specific regulations and requirements for the TNVS and their drivers.

“This is to merely offer better services to compel them (traditional taxi cabs) to modernize and compete,” Abaya had said, adding: “People will get to choose whether they want to use the older taxis or TNVS.”

“We shouldn’t look at this as added competition or to destroy the [traditional] taxi industry,” he told reporters.

Suntay disagreed, saying the move would ultimately hurt their business. He said the transit application platforms have an unfair advantage over “regular” cabs since the former do not operate their own cars. He said that services like Uber, which provides a platform for a passenger to link up with a private car driver, also benefit because their fares are not regulated unlike regular cabs.

“We are a business entity, we have a big investment in our companies,” Suntay said, adding that they have asked the government to mitigate the impact on their business like limiting the types of cars TNCs can register to larger and more premium vehicle models.

The DOTC is also imposing certain standards for vehicle eligibility, such as the requirement of global positioning system tracking and navigation devices for convenient and safer services. In addition, only sedans, Asian utility vehicles, SUVs, vans or other similar vehicles will be accredited.

Operators will also be required to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience for every vehicle to ensure accountability, the DOTC said. To promote passenger safety, drivers must be screened and accredited by the TNC and registered with the

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LTFRB, it added.

Representatives of ridesharing applications welcomed the news even as some acknowledged that several details needed to be ironed out with LTFRB, including the regulation of fares which some ridesharing applications currently dictate.

Still, they underscored the current collaborative environment in the Philippines.

“Today, the Philippines has officially become the first country to create a national dedicated framework for ridesharing,” David Plouffe, senior vice president of policy and strategy at Uber, said in an e-mailed statement.

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TAGS: DoTC, East Taxi, Grabcab, Jesus Suntay, lawsuit, Philippines, Ride-Sharing App, Road Transport, taxi, TNCs, Transportation, Tripda, Uber
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