LTFRB suspends processing of new Uber, Grab, Uhop applications

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) –  The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)  has suspended accepting and processing applications for Uber, GrabCar, and Uhop in Metro Manila.

The LTFRB issued Memorandum Circular 2016-008 on Thursday, July 21, directing its technical division and regional offices not to accept any applications for transportation network vehicle services (TNVS), particularly those of Uber, GrabCar, and Uhop proposing to ply the route within Metro Manila or entering Metro Manila. 

Transportation Spokesperson Cherie Mercado said the circular was issued due to the rising volume of TNVS applications and the department’s review of the fare scheme.

As of July 15 this year, the transportation department said applications for TNVS units rose to 29,151.

The department said there are 5,727 pending applications for GrabCar units, 23,292 for Uber units, and 131 for Uhop units.

In October last year, TNVS applications were only at about 3,500.

LTFRB said the suspension of TNVS applications will take effect once the circular is published in at least one newspaper.

Second time

This is the second time the government has suspended accepting TNVS applications.

In December 2015, a Quezon City court ordered the government to stop accepting Uber and GrabCar applications for 20 days.

This was after the LTFRB faced complaints on the accreditation of TNVS, particularly the issue of oversupply of Uber and GrabCar units.

Uber Technologies, Incorporated said it respects the decision of LTFRB, but asked the agency to "maintain the spirit of Department Order No 2015-011."

"We respect the decision of the LTFRB to suspend the acceptance and processing of new TNVS applications. However, this decision also impedes our goal to get more people into fewer cars," Uber said in a statement released Friday, July 22.

"We ask the LTFRB to maintain the spirit of Department Order No. 2015-011 that was meant to promote innovation, reliability, and consumer choice in mobility so that we can all help solve the problem of traffic congestion together," the service provider added.

Grab Philippines echoed Uber's remarks.

"Grab respects the decision of the LTFRB on revisiting the policies of TNVS...We are hopeful that the playing field will be leveled among all transport providers and that this will direct the focus on providing the best passenger and driver experience," it said in a statement.

"Thousands of aspiring TNV operators will be affected by this latest development, along with the thousands of passengers who rely on our services daily. At the moment, there is still more demand for our services than supply and the capping of applications will only take away an alternative for individuals who want to earn extra or those who want to improve their livelihoods," Grab added.

In May last year, the transportation department issued the department order, creating 4 new transport categories: TNVS, Premium Taxi, Airport Bus, and Bus Rapid Transit. These are meant to ease traffic congestion "through efficient use of road space." – Rappler.com