Sunday, March 19, 2017

AKO BICOL seeks to regulate ride-sharing platforms


AKO BICOL Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe filed House Bill 4891 or the “Transportation Network Service Act” that would classify Transport Network Vehicles as a public utility under the regulation of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

If this legislative measure is passed into law, stringent guidelines will be in place to ensure the safety of the passengers and standardize the regulation of ride-sharing platforms like Grab and Uber.

“With the emergence of online-enabled transportation services that connect transportation mediums and passengers, the government should take action to make sure that the safety of the riders and drivers is guaranteed at all times” Batocabe said.

“Furthermore, the added platforms of public transportation would compel existing taxi operators to improve their services. It would likewise decongest roads by encouraging car owners to leave their vehicles at home and use a Grab or Uber, instead”, Batocabe added.

The purpose of the legislative measure is to improve the mobility of people and ease the difficulty of movement when traffic congestion persists everyday. It also aims to diminish the presence of vehicles in roads by promoting carpooling or ridesharing. The dire need to decrease land traffic is exhibited by the Philippines’ economic loss of P2.4 billion a day, based from the study commissioned by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

“Transport network companies could not just waive liability when there is a breach on the contract of carriage. Transport network service operators should approach rider and driver safety with due diligence,” Batocabe said.

The proposed legislative measure would prohibit Transport Network Companies from evading liability and escaping accountability when issues arise between riders and passengers.

Transport Network Companies are also required to keep records of the electronic receipts from the transactions between drivers and riders. This shall be the basis for the taxes to be imposed upon operators to be collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

The proposed bill would also address the gaps in policies of the Department Order released by the Department of Transportation in 2015.

Although DO 2015-011 provided the rules for the accreditation of Transport Network Services, many taxi operators expressed their frustration because ride sharing platforms do not undergo the same austere regulation imposed to taxis.

Under the proposed measure, transport network companies are directed to apply for accreditation to operate, subject for renewal every two years. Drivers would also need to comply the prescribed requirements before operating their vehicles and cater to the riders.

Transport Network Companies are also mandated to make available the computation of fares for the information of the riders. This would explain surge pricing that result to extremely high fares. Last Holiday season, many ridesharing users expressed their protest against the surge pricing policy of ride sharing platforms. This can be attributed to the lack of information as to how these rates were computed.

“This legislative measure would also inhibit drivers to discriminate riders due to their disabilities. No additional charges should be imposed to People with Disabilities. Riders should also have the option to request for vehicles that can accommodate equipment such as wheelchairs”, Batocabe added.
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