TO PROTECT Baguio City from traffic congestion, the City Council renewed its opposition to new taxi franchises.
Councilor Benny Bomogao said the planned issuance of 200 new taxi franchises by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is not needed and will compound traffic congestion.
"The report, study and recommendation submitted by the Traffic and Transportation Management Division (TTMD), City Engineers Office (CEO), must be given weight. The office categorically reported that there is no need to augment the present number of regular taxi units in Baguio because the existing taxi units can service the demands in Baguio and LISTT (La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay) areas," he said.
In a 2017 study, traffic generation is caused by taxi cabs representing 27 percent vehicles plying the road, with 23 percent by jeeps, 28 percent by sports utility vehicles, vans with eight percent, trucks at two percent, and buses at one percent.
Bomogao said the recommendations were based on verifiable data, which the council cannot just ignore.
"Hence their recommendation was highly carried by the committee. Their findings are corroborated by recent studies made by researchers. Former Department of Transportation (DOTr) director (Robert Allan) Santiago also made a recommendation to LTFRB chairman of the sufficiency of present taxi units in Baguio," Bomogao added.
Bomogao, chair of the committee on public utilities, transportation and traffic legislation, said the panel recommended the rejection on six grounds based on petitions, letters, position papers for or against the opening for additional 200 taxi regular units and another 200 premium taxi units in Baguio City and La Trinidad as per LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2019-016.
The LTFRB-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) likewise submitted its position paper on the matter. Although at present, the LTFRB-CAR opened the applications only for the 200 regular taxi units, the committee considered it as a whole impact of the circular that would open the city additional 400 units of taxis.
LTFRB-CAR data show there are 3,227 active taxi franchise issued in CAR. The taxis mainly operate within the city and registered in LTO-Baguio.
The committee's rejection was based on the study submitted by the TTMD-CEO that shows the existing number of taxi operating in the city meets the demand of the city population and the LISTT area minus the 183 expired franchises.
Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) manual, which should also be the basis for issuance of franchises for any mode of land transport (PUB, PUV, UV express, taxi, jeepneys,) is still being prepared by the City Government, the Council said.
The committee also noted the letter of Mayor Benjamin Magalong and various opposition validated by present observable and study made by the TTMD and CEO.
A report by then Department of Transportation and Railways-CAR former OIC regional director Engr. Robert Allan Santiago concluding that there is no need to augment taxi service in the city was also included in the council's committee report.
The planned additional unit is also contrary to existing LTFRB moratorium on issuance of franchises in the city.
Bomogao, with committee member's councilors Arthur Alad-iw and Joel Alangsab said the LTFRB has to respect the rights of the city and its people, adding the justification or grounds for the lifting of the suspension is inexistent.
The committee report added there was no consultation conducted by the LTFRB-CAR with the local government unit of Baguio City on the said issues.
The councilors were firm in saying that consultation should have been made first before coming up with the questioned memorandum circular.
"Thus, we appeal that the LTFRB waits first for the LPTRP of the Baguio City which is now being finalized in order to see if there is really a need for additional taxis. Moreover, we appreciate so much if the LTFRB exercises coordination and consultation with the city government if the city really needs additional taxi units. After all, it is the city government which knows best its needs because transportation is a critical matter that affects every aspect of the City's social, economic and overall situation," Bomogao said.