LTFRB 'shocked' that Uber, Grab have over 100,000 drivers

MANILA, Philippines – The past year, transport network companies (TNCs) Uber and Grab had more than 100,000 vehicles – or "partners" – registered in their systems combined, their representatives said in a congressional hearing on Wednesday, August 2.

During the House committee hearing on the registration and franchising or lack thereof of the two companies, Uber said it has more than 66,000 "partners who have taken at least one trip in the past year." Out of that number, only over 2,500 have either a provisional authority (PA) permit or a certificate of public convenience (CPC) franchise, which allows them to ply the streets of Metro Manila.

Grab, meanwhile, has more than 52,000 vehicles accredited with only 3,000 to 4,000 of those vehicles possessing either PAs or CPCs from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

"We are shocked, to say the least," LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III said, after the two companies stated the figures.

Delgra said up until today, the number of vehicles registered under Grab and Uber had been unclear even to them.

Grab and Uber, ride-hailing firms which provide an online platform for car owners and drivers to connect with passengers, has been at odds with the LTFRB as thousands of drivers operate without permits or with expired permits.

Several lawmakers have filed bills before the House of Representatives to define, classify, and regulate companies like Grab and Uber.

"Come to Congress, get your franchise, and don't fight with LTFRB," said AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe, author of a bill that would regulate TNCs. Batocabe lost his nephew to a car crash involving an Uber vehicle in Singapore last month.

Lawmakers also quipped that it was no wonder traffic in Metro Manila has gotten worse, given the sheer number of TNC vehicles on the road.   

Both Uber and Grab, however, clarified that not all of the vehicles registered in their networks ply Metro Manila at the same time. Some "partners" are registered with both companies. Not all drivers are full-time either, meaning they only drive their vehicles for a few hours a day at most.

Bong Suntay of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association (PNTOA) said they are fine with operating alongside Uber and Grab so long as these ride-hailing services "are regulated just like [taxis]."

"The requirements are almost the same. But the difference is in the compliance. So it's an unequal application [of the rules]," said Suntay. – Rappler.com