In a statement released Monday, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will later this week introduce a new category to the public-transport sector to include ride-sharing services, thereby legalizing Uber in the Philippines after more than a year of unregulated operations.
It marks the first time the likes of Uber have been given the green light to operate on a national scale without any issues whatsoever. The announcement comes in the heels of months of collaboration between the department, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and ride-sharing companies.
Under the DOTC’s revised classification of public vehicles, Uber will be grouped into the Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) category, which is limited to sedans, vans, AUVs, SUVs, and similar vehicles that are no older than 7 years. In addition, Uber operators will be held to the same standards as their traditional counterparts. For Uber drivers, that means screening and registration with the LTFRB is mandatory.
Speaking on the revision, DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya said, “We view technological innovation as a driver for progress, especially in transportation where it can provide safer and more convenient commuting options to the public. App-based transport services help address the increasing demand for mobility spurred by rapid urbanization.”
The DOTC also plans to adopt a new standard, this time for cab-hailing services like GrabTaxi and Easy Taxi, allowing upscale taxis equipped with GPS and payment systems for cashless transactions to legally ply the streets of Metro Manila and beyond.
MY TAKE: Finally. As a frequent Uber user myself, I couldn’t be happier, though it’s fair to suggest that the ride-sharing app has already received a warm welcome from the public even before the Philippine government came into the picture.
I find that it’s easier and faster to hail an Uber now than it was a year ago, even if the chances of winding up seated behind someone who has zero knowledge of the streets of Metro Manila — and would be quick to admit to such — happens with increasing frequency.
And don’t get me started with drivers who cancel bookings at the last minute, those who run traffic signs, those who drive like it’s their first time behind the wheel, or those who drive like it’s their last. For Uber riders at least, the inexorable rise of owners and drivers has proven to be a double-edged sword.
And I’m fine with that, because the alternative is infinitely worse. Getting a decent cab ride in Metro Manila, let alone a decent cab that isn’t a decade removed from its best days, is a rarity now. Here’s hoping Uber actually delivers on the promise of better transport options outside of the service itself. We all know this country needs them badly.