March 27, 2023

The city council has called on the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board to come up with parameters in determining taxi online booking rates.

The councilors’ request was prompted by reports of residents claiming to have experienced “bidding” to be able to book a taxi amid the traffic and congestion during the holiday season.

LTFRB-CAR Hearing Officer Laird Dionel Urbanozo said the request for the standardization of taxi online booking rates had already been communicated to its central office. Once set, the standardized online taxi booking rates will be applicable nationwide, he said.

Urbanozo said, currently, booking rates are determined by the network transport companies authorized by the LTFRB. The computation of the booking fee depends on various factors such as crowd surge and the passenger’s point of origin to their destination. 

Councilors Betty Lourdes Tabanda and Vladimir Cayabas said the absence of parameters may result in unfair practices such as overcharging and bidding.

“Since there are no parameters for booking, it can be the subject of bidding. The highest bidder gets the booking, and this is contrary to public service. If there is an emergency and you are not the highest bidder, what will happen to you?” Tabanda said.

Urbanozo said Grab Philippines was recently issued a show cause order by the LTFRB to explain complaints that they overcharge their passengers.

Tabanda also cited reports of an unauthorized online booking application used during the holiday season.

Urbanozo said there are only two network transport companies authorized by the LTFRB to offer taxi online booking services in the country. These are MyTaxi.PH Inc. (Grab Philippines) and E-Pick Me Up Inc. 

He said the LTFRB is aware of the existence of the online booking application called InDriver. 

Last Jan. 8, the LTFRB released a public warning against the use of InDriver as it is not among the legitimate ride-hailing applications for taxis recognized and accredited by the Board. 

Under LTFRB guidelines, the use of an authorized online digital platform is one of the requirements for calibration, sealing, and release of a taxi unit. 

Transportation Regulation Officer Elmer Mendoza said use of an online digital platform minimizes the movement of taxi units and maximizes their operation.

Councilor Levy Lloyd Orcales expressed sympathy to commuters who have no capacity to use digital platforms for booking purposes. He said hailing a cab on the street would become more burdensome on the part of senior citizens, the technology-challenged, and the less privileged if taxi online booking becomes the norm. 

The city council urged LTFRB-CAR to conduct information education campaigns in the city on online taxi booking. – Jordan G. Habbiling