THE LAND Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has temporarily stopped accepting new applications for vehicles of ride-sharing apps like Grab, Uber and Uhop in Metro Manila, pending a review.
In Memorandum Circular No. 2016-008 issued on Friday, LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra 3rd directed all technical division and regional offices to immediately stop the acceptance and processing of new transport network vehicle service (TNVS) applications for vehicles that will pass through the National Capital Region.
“Pending review of existing policies and other relevant and pressing issues regarding the issuance of franchise to TNVS, the board hereby orders the suspension of the acceptance of all TNVS applications proposing to ply on the route within Metro Manila or entering Metro Manila,” Delgra said in the order.
The LTFRB, however, clarified that the suspension applies only to new applications.
In a statement, Uber said it respects the decision, but warned that commuters would suffer.
“Fewer drivers on Uber leads to lower reliability of service for riders in Metro Manila, who have come to rely on Uber as a viable alternative to buying and driving their own private vehicles,” it said.
Grab and Uhop officials were not immediately available for comment.
Department of Transportation spokeswoman Cherie Mercado said the suspension was due to the massive increase in new ride-sharing applications, as well as the department’s review of the TNVS fare scheme.
“It’s just the new applications that we have to suspend so we don’t have a huge amount of backlog,” Mercado said, adding that the suspension was indefinite.
As of July 21, the total number of TNVS applications has reached 30,711 units, significantly higher than the 3,500 units recorded in October 2015.
Of the total number of new TNVS applications, 22,453 applications were for Uber units, 8,131 for Grab units, and 128 for Uhop units.
Mercado said that the suspension also included the TNVS fare scheme, particularly surge pricing.
Conventional taxis have complained over surge pricing, as they are not allowed to charge such rates.
It was not the first time that app-based transport services were suspended.
To recall, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court suspended the operations of Uber, Grab, and similar transport services in December last year due to complaints filed by conventional taxi groups over fluctuating fare charges.
The court cited that the petitioner – Angat Tsuper Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator ng Pilipinas Genuine Organization Transport Coalition – had shown a right to be protected as recipients of franchises.
The taxi groups claimed to have suffered lower incomes because of the operations of Uber and Grab.