THE fate of 200 additional taxi franchises in Baguio City still hangs.
Lalaine Sobremonte, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-Cordillera director, said they are awaiting the go signal of Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
Sobremonte decline to reveal details of a meeting with Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Monday, September 23, saying they are waiting for orders from the central office.
She said the pending application for the revived 200 taxi franchises is embroiled in complications.
Sobremonte added that the number of taxi cabs in the city is officially at 3,200, adding that she does not know where the figure of over 6,000 came from.
Magalong has been vocal about his opposition to the additional units for the city and disclosed he has spoken to Tugade on the matter, assuring the franchises will not be approved.
The mayor continued to question the wisdom of the LTFRB in unilaterally approving the opening of the taxi franchises in the city without coordinating with the local government on whether there is still a need to open more taxi franchises for applicants of taxi units in the city.
"LTFRB is not the one managing the traffic in our city, that is why it should be inherent on the regulatory body to first coordinate with the local government to evaluate and assess whether or not there is still need for more taxi units to ply the city's limited routes," Magalong said.
Magalong was also backed by the City Council, which also opposed the implementation of Memorandum Circular (MC) 2019-016 of the LTRFB that opens the application of taxi franchises for Baguio and La Trinidad despite the city's moratorium on the acceptance of application for PUVs.
Based on data obtained from the LTFRB, there are 5,215 registered public utility jeepneys, 3,246 registered taxis, 459 public utility van express and 345 buses.
Local legislators also emphasized the issuance of MC 2019-16 runs counter to the measures that the local government has been establishing to combat the worsening traffic congestion in the city.
Sobremonte said individual applications are not allowed as the required number of taxi units is at least 50.
She said taxi operators, including those whose franchises had expired, were advised to form a group in order to reach the minimum number of required units.
At present, there are three groups that were able to comply with the minimum number of required taxi units. But their applications are pending before the regional office due to the appeal of the first applicant who was earlier disqualified.
Sobremonte said these 150 units owned by the applicants are plying the streets of Baguio as private vehicles, as the groups are awaiting decisions for their applications. (Maria Elena Catajan/With a report from Baguio Public Information Office)