On LTFRB, Grab, and Uber From a Commuter’s Point of View

Let it be known that I am a full-fledged commuter. I ride the UV Express to and from work almost every day. When I meet up with hubby for some after-work weekend dates (hehe!), I take the EDSA bus or the MRT from Ayala to Megamall. Sometimes, when I need to go somewhere, I take the jeep to get to my destination, especially if it’s in Cubao or east of Metro Manila. Rarely do I take taxis; only if my husband chooses to.

On occasion, I have taken a Grab or Uber even if I don’t have their apps installed on my phone. Rode a GrabTaxi from Medical City when I had to take my kid for an emergency check-up. Took an Uber with colleagues when we had to go on client meetings. A friend booked me an Uber one midnight when I had to get home after a meet-up/reunion. My sister books the family a GrabCar or Uber when we need to go somewhere.

So what’s the point of this?

In light of the issues involving transport network vehicle services (TNVS) like Grab and Uber vs. the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), I would like to allot this personal online space to vent my thoughts.

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Last year, the LTFRB suspended accepting applications of (then-new) TNVS because the agency had to review policies on these then-new entrants in public transportation. Yes, I consider them as such because they operate like taxis but are private cars. I guess that’s what confused the LTFRB that they had to review their policies.

Took them one year, though. But they never got to resolve whatever they needed to.

Fast forward to a few days ago, and the LTFRB fined Grab and Uber Php 5 million each for violating the terms of accreditation. Not sure what the terms are, though.

The agency was also going to slap a hefty fine on drivers without a certificate or provisional license to operate.

Then it goes to say that they should regulate Grab and Uber to be as safe as our buses, jeepneys, and taxis.

And then they want to shut Grab and Uber down altogether.

Not to mention that the Transportation Secretary urges the TNVS to share their earnings with the government.

Well.

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Personal experience in commuting:

  • Way back when I was working in Ortigas, there was one time, on the way home, when I had a staring contest with a holdaper inside the jeep. He had 2 other cohorts by the estribo, one was seated beside hubby (then-boyfriend). I noticed the one in front of me looking at each person inside the jeep, starting from the one beside him and going counter-clockwise. When he looked at me, I stared at him, no blinking for almost a minute. I won the staring contest. He and his cohorts went down the jeep midway our trip. No victims, fortunately.
  • One midnight, after a night out with friends, hubby and I took a taxi going to our place. We slammed against an orange plastic barrier along the way. Apparently, the driver fell asleep behind the wheel.
  • Since working in Makati, I’ve been taking the bus plying EDSA on occasion. From Ayala, it takes almost 2 hours getting to SM Megamall. I’ve watched PBA games until halftime in a bus.
  • My everyday commute from Makati to Pasig during evening rush hour takes 3 hours: 1 hour in the queue, 2 hours on the road. Takes longer when it rains.
  • One morning, days after my maternity leave, a jeep slammed on the passenger side of our car while we were making a U-turn. Other vehicles gave way, except for that jeep. And I was on the passenger side.
  • Going home one night after taking my daughter to the hospital’s emergency room, I had difficulty riding a taxi because they didn’t want to go my route. Took the chance of getting a number at the Grab kiosk. Got to book a GrabTaxi, the driver of which said that even if he didn’t quite understand the technology, he enrolled in the program because it made him earn more.
  • After a get-together, a friend of mine booked me an Uber around midnight. It was Christmastime. Uber driver said that he applied for it because of the financial perks. And that he’d rest after he’d bring commuters home from simbang gabi that day.
  • Not my experience, but: at one time, my brother accidentally left his phone in a GrabTaxi and I had to get it from their office in Makati. After the staff checked my identity, I received it whole, untampered with, and in good condition.

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So what’s the point of all this?

First, the issue of safety is moot. I’ve been lucky (and blessed) to ride jeepneys, taxis, and buses that took me to my destination in one piece. Yet, I have had some really bad experiences with our present public vehicles.

And while there have been reports of pasaway Grab and Uber drivers, I can say from my experience and that of others I know, the TNVS are pretty reliable.

Second, price, well, there’s always a high price tag for a premium.

Third, the LTFRB needs to be more competent in reviewing their policies with the entry of TNVS in the picture. It’s been a year and they haven’t settled on anything about their policies. Except fining Uber and Grab. Most probably because they don’t know what to do with them.

Heck, they even lost the accreditation papers of Grab and Uber. Like, yeah. Competent. Very competent.

Fourth, if the LTFRB is after the welfare of the Filipino commuter, the agency should allow us to choose the mode of transportation we want to use. Let those who want to ride PUVs take PUVs, and those who prefer TNVS book one.

Fifth, just thinking: if Secretary Arthur Tugade wants a piece of the revenue pie of Grab and Uber… is he nuts?

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The TNVS are an innovation in public transportation, that can be said. And while sometimes we’re iffy about new things, we have adapt to it, especially if the times and situations call for it.

The LTFRB must be open to considering Grab and Uber and other ride-sharing systems as an alternative to our buses, taxis, and jeepneys (most of which are in sad, sad conditions). If, following its Mission, Vision, and Mandate, it holds the commuting public’s welfare of high importance, then it should work with TNVS to provide “world-class” and “adequate, safe, convenient, environment-friendly, and dependable public land transportation systems.”

Yes, that applies to jeepneys, taxis, and buses, too.

Just my 2 cents.

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