Gee, thanks, LTFRB

I went to work the other morning in a Grab.

“You didn’t have a difficult time getting a booking, ma’am?” the driver asked me when we were underway.

“No, not really,” I said.

“You’re lucky,” he replied. “Grab lost thousands of drivers recently. New slots are open but it will take time to fill them up.”

I had returned from quick trip to Cebu the night before and I loved how I could get a Grab booking there within seconds, unlike in Manila, when you can’t get even a Grab Premium during rush hours, much less a Grab Car or Share.

It’s a pity that Uber is gone, sold out to Grab because they were clobbered by the competition. Grab now operates as a virtual monopoly in the local transport network vehicle services industry. Business is cut-throat in any field and consumers have to choice but to lump it.

So it’s hard enough that passengers have practically no other choice (really, can you see an elderly person on an Angkas? It’s not safe), but now Grab has deactivated 8,000 drivers who were unable to apply for the renewal of their franchises—so-called ‘colorum’ drivers.

These 8,000 drivers made up 18 percent of Grab’s operators.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board opened 10,000 slots for new TNVS drivers and Grab says it will help the ‘colorum’ drivers to apply through its help desk.

However, drivers are complaining about the deactivation now being partially implemented. Hatchback Community chairman Leonardo de Leon led the group of TNVS operators and drivers in a driveby, horn-honking protest at the LTFRB office last Tuesday.

In a video interview posted at Inquirer’s Youtube page, De Leon said that if the deactivation continues, the livelihoods of many drivers will be negatively affected.  “We hope there will be an amnesty and the deactivated drivers restored…

“We wonder why [the LTFRB] is not following the memorandum circular they issued in February providing for a three-year transition period for hatchbacks… We will be filing a complaint about this matter.

“If the result will not go our way, the protests will continue because 8,000 drivers will lose their livelihoods. And it happens to be a time for spending because it’s school opening.”

De Leon said over a thousand drivers joined their protest.

Previously, he pointed out that drivers are having difficulty complying with the onerous requirements set by the LTFRB.

As of June 7, there are eight steps for TNVS accreditation, as posted on Grab’s website. Here are the required documents for Step 1:  Four copies verified application alleging proof of citizenship and financial capacity with annexes, and verification and certification of non-forum shopping;

Photocopy of proof of Filipino citizenship (any of the following: authenticated birth certificate from Philippine Statistics Authority, valid Philippine passport, or voter’s ID); photocopy of government-issued ID with picture of the applicant; photocopy of Land Transportation Office Official Receipt and Certificate of Registration of authorized unit/s with year model made out to the applicant, with the vehicle no more than three years old; and Operators’ Data Sheet with complete details, latest picture, and valid driver’s license.

That’s just Step 1. In addition, all documents must be arranged in the above order and placed in a long orange folder—it can’t be any old folder. And check out the list of required documents in Step 7: it’s nearly as long as the allotted space for my column.

Are LTFRB officials aware that one of the concepts in a quality management system is ‘customer focus’? A company—or government agency—that is properly run must think of how it can satisfy and even delight its clients. If LTFRB makes the process for TNVS accreditation very burdensome, no wonder drivers shirk it—they have better things to do, like working.

Not only will drivers and their families be affected, but their passengers too. Public transport sucks, and it is not safe nor ideal for certain demographics like the sick, elderly, persons with disability, and the like. This deactivation of 8,000 drivers is like toppling the first domino—it’ll start a chain reaction of consequences, all of them not good. 

As I understand it, Grab has no choice but to deactivate the non-compliant drivers, because those are the rules. The ball is in LTFRB’s court now—guys, don’t fumble it. 

How can we be productive if we can’t even get to where we need to be? Good luck, Philippine economy. /FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO

Topics: Grab Car , LTFRB , TNVS , Philippine Statistics Authority , Leonardo de Leon
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