THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) has empowered the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to regulate fares charged by transport network companies (TNCs) and transport network vehicle services (TNVS).
LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lourdes A. Lizada told reporters Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade signed a new department order (DO) on Monday giving the board power.
“The TNCs and TNVS are subject to the full regulation and supervision by LTFRB, including but not limited to application and approval/denial of franchise, setting of fares, routes, operating conditions, and imposition of fines, suspension and cancellation of franchise,” she said.
The previous regulation in force DO 2015-011, allowed TNCs to draw up their own fare structures. Calls to amend the rule emerged following the wave of issues concerning the fare matrix of Grab Philippines.
Rep. Jericho Jonas B. Nograles, one of the most prominent critics of Grab’s charging system, petitioned against the TNC’s P2 per minute waiting time charge which led to the scheme’s suspension by the LTFRB in April.
With the new DO, “The fare for the TNVS shall be determined by the LTFRB, after public hearing or in consultation with the TNCs and TNVS,” Ms. Lizada added.
The DO also requires the LTFRB “to issue guidelines for the effective regulation of TNCs and TNVS.” A statement from the DoTr said LTFRB Chairman Martin B. Delgra III welcomed the responsibility.
The statement added that “LTFRB, (as in) the case for all public utility vehicles (PUVs), is in charge of issuing franchises, setting of routes, setting of operating conditions, and imposing fines, suspensions, and cancellations when necessary.”
Grab has a pending petition with the LTFRB to reimpose the P2 per minute charge, a request that depends on the continued effectivity of DO 2015-011, said it has yet to receive a copy of the new DO. However, it said it continues to believe “that the fare structure with the P2 per minute component is legal.”
“We also recognize and reiterate our deference to the authority of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and we will continue to abide by the regulations issued by the Board,” it added.
The DoTr statement quoted Mr. Tugade as saying, “We acknowledge the value of TNCs into our land transport system. This is new and many countries are still learning how to handle it. But, since it is convenient and efficient, and our people need them, it is only right that we give them a place.”
Thomas M. Orbos, Transportation Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure, said the DO is meant to protect the interests of commuters.
“With an operations imbued with public interest, state regulation is necessary in order to ensure that the interests of all parties, most especially the riding public, are protected,” he was quoted as saying. — Denise A. Valdez