The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has finally granted online transport and car-sharing services like Uber the right to operate in the Philippines based on the draft memo created by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) early this year.

New categories that have been introduced in the draft memo are set to be published late this week making the country the first-ever to create a framework dedicated to this medium of transportation.

“We view technological innovation as a driver for progress, especially in transportation where it can provide safer and more convenient commuting options to the public. App-based transport services help address the increasing demand for mobility spurred by rapid urbanization,” Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya said in a statement.

Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) is the classification that will allow online transport and car-sharing services offered Transportation Network Companies (TNC) by like Uber to operate under the framework designed by the DOTC.

A TNC as per the memo is ‘organization whether a corportion, partnership, sole proprietor, or other form, that provides pre-arranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled application or platform technology to connect passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles.’

The service the TNCs provide, which uses an app to connect passengers with drivers, will be known as TNVS.

Part of the requirements set by the DOTC is the installation of a GPS tracking and navigation system and an age limit of seven years for sedans, Asian Utility Vehicles, sports utility vehicles, vans and vehicles of the same design and purpose that will be registered under this program.

Before being given the license to operate, vehicle owners/drivers will need to register the LTFRB, get a certificate of public convenience for each vehicle, driver screening and training and get accreditation from TNCs.

The DOTC is also creating a ‘premium taxi’ classification. Compared to regular cabs, these taxis will be GPS-equipped, have online and smartphone booking capability, 7-year age limit and provide cashless transactions using credit or debit card payments.

“Many people appreciate the safe and convenient services offered by the TNVS category. We want this to motivate other public utility vehicle operators to modernize, upgrade, and innovate their services for the benefit of the public,” said Abaya.

“Today, the Philippines has officially become the first country to create a national dedicated framework for ride sharing. This first-of-its-kind order is a shining example of how collaboration between government and industry can advance urban mobility, create new economic opportunity and put rider safety first,” said David Plouffe, senior vice president of Policy and Strategy at Uber Technologies.

“In adopting this new approach, they have sent a clear message that embracing innovation, supporting consumer choice and ensuring the safety of riders should be a top priority for governments in every market,” Plouffe added.