Stranded without options
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has clarified that there is yet no order against unlicensed transport network vehicle service units under ride sharing service providers Uber and Grab.
Some vehicles registered under the two companies do not have certificates of public conveyance; the LTFRB has stopped processing applications for them because of sheer volume.
Online, there is a campaign supporting Uber and Grab amid rumors the government will enforce stricter measures on them, forcing the riding public to deal again with boorish taxi drivers who demand additional fees or refuse to convey passengers on a whim.
Uber and Grab have become popular over the past couple of years because of the convenience they provide riders, even if it means slightly higher prices that the usual cab fare.
Commuters who put a premium on their riding experience do not mind shelling out additional pesos to cover surges because the alternatives are horrible specters. They either have to deal with taxi drivers or worse endure the inconvenience —sometimes, danger— of the ill-maintained rail transits.
Other modes of transportation like jeepneys also offer little consolation. Monday’s transport strike has disrupted class schedules and caused commuting trouble to workers. Jeepney drivers and operators protest the proposed phasing out of units 15 years and older.
The government’s transport officials should sort through these messes the soonest possible time. In the case of transport network vehicles, they should strike a balance between regulating the influx of new applications and ensuring that the limitations do not translate to lower supply and thus higher prices of these services.
They should also find a way to make cab operators responsible for the behavior of taxi drivers. Transport is a business, yes, but it is also public service.
Jeepney operators should stop making commuters suffer when the phaseout idea had been floated long ago. They should have come up with a plan: Public utility vehicles, after all, need to be safe and cause no harm to their passengers.
Finally, we are still waiting for improvements on the rail system that has been the source of frustration among hundreds of thousands of riders every day.
When a student or a worker goes out into the street, he must have enough transport options that he can decide which way is the best and most convenient for him given his capacity to spend. Getting an education and earning a living are already tough exercises as they are these should not be compounded by people’s suffering on the road.