By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III on Wednesday prodded the Land Transportation and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to fast-track the entry of other transport network companies (TNCs) to ensure competition and reasonable prices for ride-sharing passengers.
Pimentel made the call after Singapore-based Grab acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia operations, covering transport network vehicles services (TNVS) in the Philippines. Uber will cease operations in the country on April 8.
With Uber exiting next week, the Senate chief stressed that it is “incumbent upon the LTFRB to work overtime to process pending TNVS applications and to ensure that Grab would not take advantage of its monopoly of the TNVS industry.”
“There is a legitimate fear among regular TNVS users that Grab’s acquisition of Uber’s operations in the country will lead to higher fares, which is the natural consequence when a player monopolizes a particular industry,” he said.
The LTFRB’s recent announcement that there are three new ride-sharing companies applying to operate in the country “can only be considered good news if any or all of these companies actually get to service our countrymen,” he noted.
Pimentel said the transport regulatory body should give commuters choices over which TNVS platform they could use, an option that will no longer be available to commuters when Grab becomes the sole TNVS provider come April 9.
“We need real competition, not potential competition. As long as riders have zero options, they will be vulnerable to overpricing and poor service — and this is where the LTFRB must come in,” he said.
The Senate leader, however, emphasized that the LTFRB should strike a balance between encouraging the entry of new players and the need for these players to comply with government regulations.
He said the agency should also address feedbacks from TNVS users and “immediately act” on complaints.
“Social media has provided the LTFRB with the tools to monitor the prices and the performance of Grab after Uber exits. But the real test will be how they respond to the feedback from commuters. They should be ready to act on complaints to discourage Grab and its drivers from violating TNVS rules and regulations,” he said.