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Letters to the Editor

Regulate Uber and Grab now

/ 05:00 AM August 01, 2017

There is no denying that Uber and Grab are quite successful in our country, or at least in Metro Manila. They provide a very much appreciated service for people on the go, who get picked up at the front door and dropped off at the destination much like a taxi service, in the comfort of a clean and newer vehicle.

The passengers do not even have to carry cash, and the drivers for the most part are well-spoken and officially identified by the network. The ride experience itself is also rated.

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In short, Uber and Grab are the next step in the evolution of what taxis ought to be, and the taxi industry should seriously start adapting the new practices.

There is no denying, however, that some smarty pants are really trying to go around the system taking advantage of the platform to virtually start their underground cab business, and some individuals are lured by the false pretense that it is okay to do it full time like a legitimate regular job.

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This fad or notion of the “share” or “gig” economy took off in other countries, and we decided to copy it. A lot of people invested in new vehicles with the notion that the vehicles will eventually pay for themselves and at the same time give them a handsome income depending on how long they drive per day or week.

I think the fault really lies in a combination of factors. First, there were no clear-cut guidelines set forth by the governing agency. And secondly, there is a lack of a nondisclaimer on the part of Uber and Grab toward their “employees.” Uber and Grab have failed to properly explain the concept of a “ride-share” and most likely willfully distorted the goal and aim of the app-service from a “sharing” economy to a full-time “gig” economy.

To fix this, there should be an imposed rest period or break period after a drop, at least a three-hour period, to show at least that the service is not used like a regular cab. If they are operating like a nonstop service from all points  crisscrossing the metro, then obviously there is a violation and they are clearly guilty of operating like a gypsy or “colorum” cab.

It may be high time that the LTFRB started selling franchises to existing Uber and Grab operations, especially those which operate like a cab.

In the meantime, regular taxis should start developing apps for their services to be able to directly compete with Uber and Grab; this will be specially helpful for cabs that are going in a certain direction and cannot refuse a passenger going in the opposite direction. Plus they don’t have to waste gas roaming around trying to chance upon passengers on the street, not to mention having drivers in databases that are identifiable and having the convenience of cashless transactions.

There is obviously a market with wide public support, but unfortunately it is operating in a gray area.  It’s high time the LTFRB started upping its game and sort this issue.

If Uber or Grab are operating like a cab service, then all the necessary fines and penalties should be imposed. But if the services require a franchise and an obvious niche is filled, then hopefully the governing bodies will do the right thing for the sake of the riding public.

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JOSE SANTAMARIA, [email protected]

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