Issue of August 11, 2019
     
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Opposition snowballs vs additional taxi units
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

More taxi drivers are opposing the transportation department’s approval of the operation of premium taxis in Baguio and in other urban areas in the country.

Taxi drivers have recently mounted a signature campaign opposing Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s issuance of Memorandum Circular 2019-16, which opened additional taxi franchises for Baguio, La Trinidad to any point of the Cordillera Administrative Region and Butuan City to any point in the Caraga Region.

The petition stated that drivers in the region were not consulted about the repercussions to traffic if more units were allowed to operate.

City officials have also joined the bandwagon.

Last week, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said he will formally inform the LTFRB about his position.

Last Monday, the city council unanimously passed a resolution opposing MC 2019-16.

The mayor also announced that he already asked the City Legal Office to study the possibility of filing a restraining order, should the LTFRB decide to grant a franchise to applicants.

The LTFRB-CAR is presently reviewing three applications for a taxi fleet.

MC 16, which took effect on April 10, cited population increase, growth of the tourism industry, rapid economic development, cancellation, expiration, and abandonment of certificates of public convenience as reasons for the need for additional taxi units in the cities of Baguio and Butuan.

The MC also stated that the identification of units needed was based on the surveys done by the LTFRB-Cordillera and Caraga. For Baguio and La Trinidad, the LTFRB-Cordillera recommended 200 units and 100 units for Butuan City as per LTFRB-Caraga. 

“In order to effectively respond to the concerns of the riding public, the Board sees the need to fill in the gap between the existing number of taxi units and the actual demand,” a portion of the MC states.

In the recently passed resolution of the city council, it said the perceived demand for more taxi units is not due to shortage in the number of taxi units but because of heavy traffic brought about by factors such as the increasing number of vehicles plying Baguio and La Trinidad’s roads, narrow roads, and lack of sufficient parking. 

The LTFRB through OIC Regional Director Lalaine Sobremonte earlier said that the set of guidelines for the 200 additional taxi slots is stringent.

To be granted a franchise, the operator, who may be a cooperative, partnership, corporation, or consortium must have a minimum of 50 brand new units, compliant with the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, sufficient garage and repair shop to ensure road worthiness of the vehicles, and has financial capacity of P800,000 or more multiplied by the total number of vehicles that the applicant is applying for, on top of other documentary requirements.

A pre-qualification committee formed by the regional director of the LTFRB, composed of a chairperson, one legal representative, and one technical representative and observers from the DOTr and the Commission on Audit will screen the applications.

Sobremonte said in an interview last July 29 that failure to comply or submit only one of the requirements is enough basis to deny the franchise application.


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