The government's plan for a premium taxi service may soon become reality. Recently, the Department of Transporation (DOTr) issued Department Order No. 2019 – 007 which amends the previous D.O. No. 2015 – 011 for premium taxis.

This is in line with the government's Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) which aims to improve the safety and riding comfort of the commuters, as well as the welfare of transport operators and drivers.

“Our transport modernization programs aim to uplift three elements: the safety and comfort of the riding public, the state of road transportation, and the welfare of transport operators and drivers. Through the Taxi Modernization Program, we provide additional options for mobility to the public while giving our taxi drivers regular compensation and benefits,” said Tugade.

In addition, the drivers of each premium taxi vehicle will have a regular salary, as well as benefits. For Tugade, this will curtail the need for drivers to rush out and maximize the number of fares they can get. This, in turn, will reduce the risk of drivers getting into an accident while on the road.

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Under the ammended guidelines, all premium taxi vehicles will need to be at least Euro-4 compliant and has to have air-conditioning. They will also be classified into two types; Silver and Gold. Based on the body types per registration with the LTO, sedans can be classified under Silver or Gold.

On the other hand, multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) and utility vans (UVs) fall under silver. As for sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and premium UVs, they will be classified under Gold. Silver taxis will have to be painted black with silver markings while Gold taxis will be finished in black with gold markings.

The parameters that will define Silver and Gold classification will depend upon the Land Transporation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). The exact specifications may depend on the vehicle's horsepower rating, leg room, as well as cargo space. As for hybrid and electric vehicles, the DOTr stated that hybrids should at least have a 1,800cc capacity engine while EVs need to have a 100-kilowatt output.

When it comes to passenger capacity, Silver sedans have to carry a maximum of four passengers while a total of six and seven passengers are allowed for Silver MPVs and UVs respectively. To promote the safety across all vehicle types, all premium taxis must seatbelts for all passengers (including the driver), front airbags, and untinded windows. In addition, D.O. No. 2019-007 also mandates premium taxis to features like free internet access for passengers, on-board navigation system, and a camera system that can serve as a security CCTV for the cabin, as well as a dashcam for on-road recording.