AS THE Christmas season nears and the volume of commuters are expected to increase, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-Northern Mindanao has reminded taxi drivers and operators not to be choosy in taking in passengers.
LTFRB-Northern Mindanao regional director Aminoden Guro said they have been receiving complaints, especially from persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and students who reported they were turned away by taxi drivers.
Guro said this usually happens during the weeks leading to the Christmas holiday as people are rushing to malls and commercial establishments to do their shopping.
In an interview Wednesday, Guro said they have already talked with the mall owners so the transport office can put up public assistance and complaint desks to address the riding public’s complaints.
“We must assist and prioritize them so it would be convenient for [the passengers],” Guro said, adding that they have now activated the “Oplan Insabero” as mechanism to put a stop to taxi drivers turning away passengers.
Guro has also warned that taxi drivers who are not complying with the laws implemented by LTFRB and Land Transportation Office will be penalized.
Among the violations he cited are overcharging of fare, arrogance and discourtesy of drivers, discrimination against passengers, not granting special discounts to senior citizens, PWDs, and students, and contracting passengers.
For this part, local transport group Association of United Taxi Operators (Auto) president Fernando Clemenia has assured they will not reject commuters.
“To be honest, our drivers are finding it hard to look for passengers due to the number of ‘colorum’ taxis,” Clemenia said.
“It is not possible to snub passengers. In fact, we take in passengers even if their destination is just near. This is because of the decreasing number of the riding individuals,” he added.
Clemenia said they find it deplorable that it’s already December, which they expect an increase in the volume of passengers, but several factors have affected their income, including the illegally operating taxis, the spike in fare, and the proliferation of other means of transportation like motorcycles-for-hire and tricabs that take away their share of passengers.
In response, Guro said they have been going after public utility vehicles that are operating illegally, specifically those without franchise from the LTFRB.
To date, the LTFRB-10 has confiscated 16 taxi units without the necessary permits, he said.
Some of these taxis that they have impounded, Guro said, were registered in Iligan City but were operating in Cagayan de Oro and other parts of the region.
“Colorum taxis have become rampant that it has endangered the safety of the riding public, as well as the livelihood of honest and law-abiding public utility vehicle drivers and operators,” he added
These illegally operating taxis, Guro said, also affect the economy since the operators of these PUVs do not pay taxes, business licenses, franchising fees, and other government-required payments.
City administrator Teodoro Sabuga-a Jr. has suggested that the city must adopt an ordinance requiring operators to shoulder a part of the payment of penalties imposed on erring PUV drivers.
“Operators must share the burden of the drivers since they are the ones who recruited their drivers,” Sabuga-a said.