Bill proposes credit card payments for taxis

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014


A BILL mandating taxi operators and drivers to accept credit card payment received a negative response from some stakeholders in Cebu.

HB 4106 or the “Credit Card Payment for Cabs Act of 2014” introduced by Paranaque City First District Representative Eric L. Olivarez orders the adoption of a new taxi meter system that accepts credit card payments.

The bill’s rationale is grounded on safe commuting, with the increasing rate of crimes related to theft, robbery, and snatching happening inside taxicabs.

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Modern methods

However, Cebu Integrated Transport Service Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Citrasco-MPC) chairman Ryan Benjamin C. Yu regarded the bill as “not yet feasible”.

In an interview with Sun.Star Cebu, Yu said that although the idea itself is “good,” as it will introduce a modern payment method and will offer comfort to commuters, the country’s infrastructure is not yet ready for a new system.

For one, Internet connectivity in the Philippines is not yet widespread, which Yu said is important in dealing with credit card payments.

“As far as the idea, nindot man siya (it’s a good one). It opens change. But before we introduce change, we should have ready infrastructure… Internet must be widespread,” Yu said.

Questions

Aside from connectivity, Yu also raised problems on transaction and cost.

“Operating a swipe machine carries cost. Who will shoulder the cost? Will it be the operator, the taxi driver, or the commuter?”

Moreover, with the credit card system, taxi drivers have to go to banks regularly to get the payment. But since most of the taxi drivers are just renting taxi units from operators, they have to go to the bank on a daily basis to get their income.

Bank trips

Yu added that since drivers use the money they earn from driving to buy fuel and food, they have no other choice but to go to the bank more often.

Yu also addressed the security issues raised in the bill as true but believes the use of credit card will not decrease crimes committed inside taxi units.

“It’s up to the police to minimize the crime rate… It’s (credit card payment system) not an assurance to stop the crime,” Yu said.

Out of the 6,000 taxi units in Cebu, 200 are operated by Citrasco.

Reactions

Taxi driver Edmund Mahilom of TresNiñas Taxi, in a separate interview, did not agree with the bill when he was informed about it.

“Langan na kaayo kung mag-credit card pa (Things will take too long if we use a credit card),” Mahilom said.

Meanwhile, an official of Shipyard Taxi, who refused to be named, said the mandate on adopting a new meter system will be a big expense for operators, since they have to change all their meter system.

Penalty

“We just changed our meter system and now we have to change again?” the official lamented. The taxi receipt system was introduced in 2009.

Under the proposed bill, refusal of a credit card payment shall be meted with a penalty of suspension or revocation of license or franchise and a fine of not less than P20,000 but not more than P50,000.

Meanwhile, commuters expressed mixed sentiments on the bill.

Chris Dominique Misterio said she supports the bill if proven the credit card payment system will be efficient.

“I welcome the development. But there should be emphasis on the implementation’s effectiveness and efficiency,” Misterio said.

Also a commuter, Golden Marie de Guzman, supports the proposed system but she said this can be problematic on the part of taxi drivers.

Drivers’ plight

“Yes, I support it but taxi drivers will be affected by it, considering that their daily income might possibly be delayed (with all the banking transactions),” de Guzman in Cebuano said.

Under the bill, a taxicab should not be in service if its credit card equipment is broken. The taxi driver must also report the problem to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

The LTFRB, together with the Department of Transportation and Communication and the Land Transportation Office, is also tasked to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations in carrying out the bill’s provision once it will be approved.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 21, 2014.

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