Opinion

Improving mass transportation

Improving mass transportation

There are regular taxis, buses, jeepneys and the light rail trains. So the strike staged during the morning rush hour yesterday by several Transport Network Vehicle Service or TNVS operators and drivers caused minimal disruption in mass transportation.

Leading ride-hailing company Grab said its operations were normal even during the morning peak hours, with enough vehicles to respond to the demand. The grievances that led to the brief strike, however, also affect Grab driver-partners, and a wider “transport holiday” is possible.

While there are other modes of mass transportation available, regular TNVS clients would miss the efficiency of the service. There have been cases of muggings, sexual molestation and other offenses committed inside TNVS units. Generally, however, comfort and efficiency drove the phenomenal growth of the ride-hailing business in the Philippines.  

The transport holiday was cut short at 10 a.m. after representatives of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board sat down to a meeting with the TNVS representatives together with Civil Service Commissioner Aileen Lizada, Transport Undersecretary for Roads Richmond de Leon and Anti-Red Tape Authority officer-in-charge Ernesto Perez.

Among the complaints are the difficulties, described by the operators as “pahirap” policies, in securing a franchise from the LTFRB as well as the ban on hatchbacks – referring to the vehicle displacement rather than its shape – for TNVS operations. The LTFRB has agreed to reconsider the ban on hatchbacks but is standing firm on its crackdown on “colorum” TNVS units or those without a franchise or provisional authority.

The LTFRB is carrying out its mandate of regulating mass transportation to promote efficient services and ensure the safety of commuters. Considering the acute inadequacy of mass transportation facilities, however, cutting red tape in all LTFRB operations, including the approval of transport franchises, must be given priority. At the same time, officials must keep in step with innovations in mass transportation services, so that regulatory frameworks can evolve and promote rather than hinder the improvement of mass transportation.