Premium taxi service in Baguio soon

PREMIUM taxi service may soon ply Baguio City as an alternative to regular cabs.

In the turnover ceremonies for the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-Cordillera in Baguio City, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Undersecretary Richmond de Leon said premium taxi service franchises will soon open in highly urbanized cities like Baguio City outside of Metro Manila.

"Secretary Tugade has released a department order to introduce premium taxi to all major cities in the Philippines. We also came up with the numbers for the additional taxi units and if there is a market for a premium taxi so that we would be able to modernize our public transport," De Leon said.

DOTr Department Order (DO) 2019-007 amended the premium taxi guidelines DO 2015-11 ,identifying the revised guidelines that would provide regular salaries and benefits for drivers, reclassification of vehicles to be used as premium taxis, maximum vehicle age limit of seven years, free Internet access for passengers, and mandatory onboard cameras for ride documentation.

"When premium taxis will be present in the major cities in the country, this would encourage tourists and residents to patronize this type of premium service and in that way we will be able to push modernization in a much higher standard," De Leon said.

Based on the department order, premium taxi service franchises should be for high capacity vans, which are used in other countries like Thailand and Singapore.

Department Order 2015-11-referred to as the "Taxi Modernization Program" -- which not only contained the new classification for transport network companies like Uber and Grab, but also the creation of a new public transport vehicle category called the premium taxi service by DOTr and LTFRB who will ration the number of premium taxi units allowed to ply per region.

De Leon said the reason for the absence of transport networking vehicle services (TNVS) in Baguio City was the difficulty in regulating such services as compared to taxi services.

"If there are 20 taxis available, you know that there are 20 taxis running on the road because of the markings while if LTFRB authorizes 20 TNVS, there is no assurance that all of these TNVS are really running on the road because of the absence of markings. In terms of enforcement and regulatory functions, which provides for public transports service, will we really provide that services to the commuters. It is why the DoTR focuses more on modernization transport services to serve the people so that just like in other countries, we would have a minimal number of taxis that would give us more fixed routes," De Leon added.

In Metro Manila, close to 65,000 TNVS were authorized by the LTFRB to operate, but there has been no means to verify if these TNVS were really operating.


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