The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) on Wednesday urged taxi operators to modernize and improve their services in order to be competitive with technology-based land transport services offered through Uber, Grabtaxi, Easytaxi, and the like.
“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,” DOTC Secretary Emilio Joseph Abaya said.
“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,” the transport chief added.
The DOTC and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have begun crafting improvements to regulations which currently classify vehicles offering services through Uber and similar apps as illegal or “colorum,” following Abaya’s call for government to support rather than obstruct the use of technology in solving transport problems.
The LTFRB has identified the existing “vehicles-for-hire” category as the likely classification for such vehicles, once its scope is updated to accommodate new technological solutions.
At a congressional inquiry earlier this week, the LTFRB said it will conduct a hearing on November 24 in relation to the updating of land transport rules and regulations, as well as the status of Uber vehicles which are currently deemed illegitimate by law.
As the DOTC works to expedite the process of updating old rules to meet today’s technologies, it is also formulating a taxi reform program to provide improved services to the public.
“The ideal result of these developments is for taxi operations to modernize and improve as well, as this will benefit commuters,” Abaya said.
He added: “I want minimum upgrading requirements such as booking systems through mobile devices, newer and well-maintained fleets, and highly-trained drivers whose identities are disclosed to passengers.”