It's been an unusual day for the Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and private online transport service Uber.

Earlier today news broke out from various outlets that the LTFRB is going after Uber, an online app that allows users to book privately owned luxury vehicles (pick up and drop off) for a fee.

The LTFRB appears to have deemed Uber as a colorum operation, and will subsequently fine the vehicle owners who provide their services for Uber. The fines, according to the a previous report, are PhP 120,000 for sedans and PhP 200,000 for utility vehicles.

“It's not the service but it's because of... not having a franchise,” LTFRB officer Dennis Barion was quoted as saying to GMA News.

Services such as these have become commonplace in Metro Manila as pioneered by GrabTaxi. Uber (and GrabCar) differ in the sense that they use private vehicles without franchises, as opposed to GrabTaxi which makes use of franchised taxi cabs.


MMDA reacts to the issue

Subsequently, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority has issued their own reaction to the issue brewing between the LTFRB and Uber. Below is the statement made by the MMDA on their official Facebook page:

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today advised the Land Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to find ways to reasonably assist transport services like local Uber instead of suspending its operations and impounding them as colorum vehicles citing that such private initiative will help ease traffic in Metro Manila pending the availability of a modern mass transport system, among other things.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino gave the advice following reports that the LTFRB, acting on the complaint of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association that the growing popularity of Uber has disabled them and has adversely affected commuters and is reportedly set to impose sanctions on Uber’s operations.

The muscle of the law and the procedural and technical arms of government agencies alone cannot resolve the lack of alternate means of transportation problem, they can only increase apprehension records, Uber or hybrid carpooling is a well-meaning technology-driven effort intended for public safety and convenience that’s why people are patronizing it. We cannot curtail their mobility rights. This is similar to private bridal cars and private ambulances for rent which is a private transaction between the rider and the owner of the vehicle,” Tolentino said.

In a similar vein, the MMDA chief explained that in as much as the government would not allow the taxicab industry to fail, it should not also curtail Uber’s options because of the wide range of opportunities and customer’s choice it provides, like convenience, comfort and riding safety, as Uber provides top of the line SUVs and limousines.

Uber is a techie transportation network that makes mobile apps that connect passengers with drivers of private vehicles for hire and ride sharing services. The company arranges pickups wherein cars are reserved by sending a text message or by using a mobile app and within ten minutes the vehicle would arrive, providing relief to Metro Manilans, similar to a system in California.

In Metro Manila, Uber’s service is available at the Makati and Ortigas corridors thereby helping our ailing public transport system especially this coming Yuletide season.

Uber’s service car models include Fortuner, Montero, Camry, and Hummers which passengers say are far more better and safer than dilapidated taxicabs plying around town with some having tampered meters, some of whom even ignoring taxicab commuter pleas for a ride

Perhaps there is another way of looking at this system, as no irregularity under the Public Service Law, as amended, is being committed here, and has proven to be beneficial to commuters.

So, what do you think?