By Alexandria San Juan
A commuters’ group has urged the government to support local transport network companies (TNCs) instead of opening the country’s ride-sharing market to foreign-owned firms.
“While we agree that a competitive market is necessary to improve rates and passenger experience, we believe that the best way to do it is to support local companies that can provide viable options in the TNVS (transport network vehicle service) market,” Primo Morillo, convenor of The Passenger Forum, said on Tuesday.
Morillo’s statement came following reports that DiDi Chuxing, China’s biggest ride-sharing company, is eyeing to expand its operations in the Philippines.
Recent reports showed that DiDi Chuxing is currently negotiating with the group of Ilocos Sur politician Luis “Chavit” Singson to compete with the country’s dominant ride-sharing firm Grab Philippines.
“Home-grown TNCs should be supported rather than killed by allowing giant foreign-owned app-based ride-hailing firms to come in. We have to understand that for these local companies to be able to compete, it is necessary for the government to consult them on what kind of help they need,” Morillo stated.
Citing results of their June 2019 survey, Morillo emphasized that 97 percent of respondents, a small margin of TNVS commuters, are already trying out local app-based rides such as Owto and Hype.
Currently, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LRFRB) is allowing 10 TNCs including Grab, Owto and Hype to operate ride-sharing services in the Philippines.
“Aside from the lack of government support, we should not forget that local companies are also affected by the LTFRB’s decision to maintain a low cap for TNCs even with rising demand. This irrationally low cap hurts local companies as it effectively limits them to the small market share they have,” he added.
Morillo also stressed that the upcoming Christmas season will further drive demand for TNVS in Metro Manila.
“In a few weeks, the Christmas rush will increase TNVS demand and the process of approving a new foreign player will take too much time. The situation points to no less than hiking the cap to ensure convenience for the TNVS-riding commuters,” the commuters network leader explained.
The group also appealed to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the LTFRB to consult first existing TNCs, transport organizations, and commuter groups before allowing another foreign company to operate in the country’s transport industry.