THE LTFRB management wisely decided the other day to stop apprehending Uber partner car owners in the Philippines. Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Winston Ginez has also admitted to media that his original order to have Uber partner-drivers arrested for doing the taxi-trade without proper LTFRB approvals will be suspended because his agency is still drafting guidelines on how Uber can operate as a legal transport service provider under Philippine laws.
The following is Wikipedia’s concise description of Uber. “Uber is a rideshare and taxi service company headquartered in San Francisco, California, which operates in cities in several countries. The company uses a smartphone application to receive ride requests, and then sends these trip requests to their drivers. Customers use the app to request rides and track their reserved vehicle’s location. As of August 29, 2014, the service was available in 45 countries and more than 200 cities worldwide, and was valued at more than US$40 billion in December 2014.
“Upon inception, Uber offered only full-size luxury cars for hire, and the ‘UberBlack’ title was adopted for the company’s main service (named after the ‘black cars’ private transportation services in New York City). In 2012, the company launched its “UberX” program, which expanded the service to any qualified driver with an acceptable vehicle. Due to a lack of regulation, Uber can offer lower fees, so the service has become extremely competitive with traditional taxi services, expanding Uber’s appeal to a broader cross-section of the market.
“Uber is the subject of ongoing protests from taxi drivers, taxi companies and representative bodies who believe that ridesharing companies are illegal taxicab operations that engage in unfair business practices and compromise passenger safety. As of December 2014, protests had been staged in Germany, India, Thailand, Spain, France and England, among other nations, while incidents involving passengers have been documented. Uber was banned in Spain and two cities of India, in December 2014, and continues to resolve issues with numerous governmental bodies, including those of the US and Australia.”
Once Uber came to Manila, it became overwhelmingly popular among commuters who, on grouping together, find that they spend even less on Uber than on taking taxi rides. In addition they also find Uber cars and drivers better, cleaner and more wholesome.
But of course regular taxi-fleet operators and public utility companies rose against it. They even lobbied their friends in the House to make a statement against Uber.
But no one can deny that with the Philippine traffic situation and its motor vehicle public utility in such a miserable condition, any innovative approach to solving the problem would be embraced by the public.
This is one issue in which we must laud the government for at last realizing its mistake in going against something good and for now taking steps to legitimize that good thing.