MMDA asks LTFRB to spare Uber commuters

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA IMAGES)

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has advised the Land Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to spare commuters using the popular ridesharing service Uber.

After news broke out that the LTFRB will impose a 200,000-peso fine and an impounding of three months for Uber vehicles, the MMDA came to the rescue of the company and its customers.

The MMDA released a statement saying that the LTFRB was “acting on the complaint of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association that the growing popularity of Uber has disabled them and has adversely affected commuters.”

 “The muscle of the law and the procedural and technical arms of government agencies alone cannot resolve the lack of alternate means of transportation problem, they can only increase apprehension records. Uber or hybrid carpooling is a well-meaning technology-driven effort intended for public safety and convenience that’s why people are patronizing it,” said MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino in the statement.

“We cannot curtail their mobility rights. This is similar to private bridal cars and private ambulances for rent, which is a private transaction between the rider and the owner of the vehicle.”

The taxi industry has been feeling the effects of Uber and other ridesharing services. Instead of waiting for an available cab to pass by or calling a taxi company to be picked up, commuters can now book rides through their smart phones with Uber.

After booking a ride, the commuters would receive a call or a text message from the driver complete with his picture and other important information. The bill would be automatically charged to the commuter's credit card. Uber also has a rating system which informs the company of unpleasant drivers.

Although Uber has high-end cars, which cost higher, they have recently introduced UberX which features lower-end cars with a rate that could compete with the normal taxi rate.

“Perhaps there is another way of looking at this system as no irregularity under the Public Service Law, as amended, is being committed here, has has proven beneficial to commuters,” said Tolentino who also added that the government would not allow the taxicab industry to fail but it should not do so by curtailing Uber’s services.

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