LTFRB drafts guidelines for premium taxi operation

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) shared a draft of its guidelines for private firms who would want to operate a premium taxi service – a service like that of app-based transportation providers Uber, GrabCar, and GrabTaxi.

The LTFRB drafted the guidelines, posted on the LTFRB website, in accordance with Department Order No. 2015-011.

According to the memo, the taxi service should have the following operation characteristics:

Units should be four or five-door sedan automobiles.

Each unit should have a capacity of four people, excluding the driver.

Each unit should have an engine with a displacement of 2,000 cc or higher (or its equivalent, if electric-, hybrid-, or alternate fuel-powered vehicle).

Units should be air-conditioned.

The service should have no fixed route.

The fare will have to be authorized by the LTFRB.

LTFRB also set the operating conditions for the premium taxis:

The operator must have at least 20 units in the fleet.

The top light must display “Premium Taxi.”

Drivers must be in uniform and must have company IDs.

All vehicles must have clear windows.

All vehicles must be brand new at the time of franchise application.

All vehicles must be in a color set by the LTFRB.

All vehicles will have a maximum age of seven years.

All vehicles must be equipped with a GPS vehicle tracking and navigation device.

All vehicles must be equipped with an on-board electric taxi fare payment device capable of processing payments made with credit card or debit card.

The operator must have a facility for booking and dispatching by way of an online or smartphone-based application.

The operator must have its own workshop and depot with a space of at least 15 square meters per vehicle and a total area of at least 750 square .  This should be separate from any existing workshop and depot already occupied by or assigned to other taxis in their fleet.

The operator must comply with rules and regulations issued by government agencies.

Those who would want to be a part of the premium taxi service must submit the necessary legal, technical, and financial capability documents.

Related: LTFRB hits back at 'premium taxi' bashers

A Pre-Qualification Committee was also created, with Roberto P. Cabrera III as the chairman.

The premium taxi service of the LTFRB may be rolled out before 2015 ends, as per the timetable posted on the draft of the memorandum circular.

The premium taxi service and its conditions aim to "promote safety, protection, comfort, and convenience to persons and property in their charges, as well as the safety of persons and property within their areas of operations."

CNN Philippines stresses that the memo posted on the website is a draft. It is therefore subject to change.

Days after announced Uber, Grabcar crackdown

The news about the draft guidelines came just days after the news of the crackdown on Uber, Grabcar, and other app-based and online-ride sharing service providers if they fail to secure a franchise before August 21.

In May, the LTFRB added a new transport category, the Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS), to cover this type of service.

Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said this move is being made "to motivate other public utility vehicle operators to modernize, upgrade, and innovate their services for the benefit of the public."

Below is the draft of a memorandum circular posted on the LTFRB website.

ERRATUM: initially published this report saying that LTFRB is planning to start its own premium taxi service.