PUV category eyed for ride-sharing companies

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By Patrizia P. C. Marcelo

THE LAND Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is set to implement new regulations this year for ride-sharing companies, including the creation of a separate public utility vehicle (PUV) category for ride-sharing vehicles and a “transition scheme” for hatchback models and fleets.

LTFRB Chairman Martin B. Delgra III said that for 2018, the LTFRB will resolve two main issues regarding ride-sharing companies or transport network companies (TNCs) Grab Philippines (MyTAXI.PH, Inc.), Uber Philippines (Uber Systems, Inc.), and U-HOP. These are the creation of a “generic” PUV category or pool of vehicles for TNCs, and a transition scheme for what the agency deems as those not qualified to operate as transport network vehicle service (TNVS).

“There are two remaining issues LTFRB is about to resolve and implement at the start of the year 2018. One, creating a denomination of PUVs generic to TNVS from which all TNCs will get their supply,” Mr. Delgra said in a text message.

The agency will also be creating a transition scheme for those who are not considered as TNVS, and these include hatchback models and those which belong to a fleet or more than three vehicles under the same registration.

“Second, a transition scheme for those who are not qualified to be TNVS either because the vehicle is too small like the hatchback model and those whose numbers are more than three and therefore are considered fleet. Fleet management runs counter to the original business model of TNVS which is basically a ride-sharing concept wherein the owner is normally the driver who wants to earn extra income,” Mr. Delgra added.

The year 2017 has been a year of regulation issues between the LTFRB and TNCs.

In July, Uber and Grab were fined P5 million each by the LTFRB for allowing drivers to operate without permits, violating the terms of their accreditation.

In August, the regulator ordered TNCs to cease accepting and accrediting applications. It ordered the suspension of Uber for a month after the agency said the TNC violated the order. The LTFRB lifted the suspension after Uber paid the imposed P190-million fine and showed proof of compensation worth P299.24 million to affected drivers/operators.

In November, the agency said it will require TNVS operators to display stickers on the upper right portion of the windshield/s of their vehicle/s. TNVS drivers will be required to wear and display “in full view of the passenger” an identification card (ID) issued by their respective TNCs.

Drivers will also have a maximum number of seven passengers they can carry in a ride, “but not exceeding the designed seating capacity of the vehicle.”

The LTFRB in October also asked Uber to explain its surcharges. Uber includes a surcharge of P80 when drivers use the Skyway, Magallanes, and C-5 and exit points of Bicutan and Sucat; P100 for exit points of Alabang, Filinvest and Susana Heights; and P60 for areas east of Metro Manila like Antipolo, Rizal.

Uber said the surcharge is for the compensation of drivers for going to “low demand” areas. Mr. Delgra said at the time that the surcharge can be comparable with “contracting” done by taxi drivers, a practice criticized by taxi passengers and also disallowed under LTFRB franchising regulations.