Saturday July 21, 2018

Carvajal: Backwards

THE “missiom” of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is to “ensure that the commuting public has adequate, safe, convenient, environment-friendly and dependable public transportation services at reasonable rates...” Its “mandate” is to “promulgate, administer, enforce, and monitor compliance of policies, laws, and regulations of public transportation services.”

“Mission” is the reason for LTFRB’s existence. “Mandate” is the means to that end. But in suspending the operations of Uber LTFRB is seeing it backwards. It is setting aside mission in favor of mandate. It would rather have the commuting public suffer from unreasonable and undependable taxicabs that haggle for unmetered rates and refuse transport to short distances than fulfill its mission through Uber’s safe, convenient, dependable and reasonably prized transport services.

Taxis have long been the subject of complaints from the commuting public and because LTFRB has failed to solve this problem, the latter are switching in droves to Grab and Uber transports. Taxicabs have not helped LTFRB fulfill its mission. In spite of that and perhaps because they comply with LTFRB rules and for lack of a viable substitute, taxi operation moves along unimpeded.

Here comes Uber, in great demand by the commuting public for being safe (cars in excellent condition) and dependable (not choosy about destinations) and LTFRB suspends its operation for failure to comply with agency regulations. In other words, Uber helps LTFRB attain its mission, as proven by the big demand for their services. Yet LTFRB’s bureaucratic myopia (I hope that’s all it is) sees only the violation of rules and not the help Uber is giving LTFRB in fulfilling its mission.

Nobody disagrees with LTFRB that Uber should be penalized. But everybody (except perhaps taxi operators) disagrees that the penalty should be suspension because it also penalizes Uber’s partners (driver-owners of Uber cars) and the commuting public. It is already preposterous that LTFRB should ask Uber to compensate its partners for business losses during the suspension. But who compensates the commuting public for business and personal opportunity losses brought about by the suspension?

To add insult to injury LTFRB insists on hearing Uber’s plea to commute the penalty from suspension to a fine only next Wednesday. If LTFRB cares it should listen to the riding public’s clear demand for Uber services and drop everything to settle the issue.

Again, the mission is the end. Regulations are the means. If rules get in the way of the mission it should be bent or even changed. Uber, after all, is a new way of doing transport business.

Sadly somehow LTFRB is, for reasons I hope are nothing worse than bureaucratic myopia, doing it backwards.