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City, transport groups call LTFRB’s attention anew on allowing 200 new taxis

MORE TRAFFIC. Some 200 new taxis are now playing the city streets after the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board allowed them to do so despite opposition from the city government and transport groups. Taxi drivers complain that they earn less now with people staying at home more often and lesser time in the streets due to the imposition of restrictions to stop spread of the Covid-19 virus. Pigeon Lobien / RNG Luzon

The city council and members of the Association of Independent Taxi Operators and Drivers in the Cordillera (AITODC) are opposing the move of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in allowing 200 new taxis to ply city streets.

Members of the city council last Monday denied having a hand in allowing the new taxis from plying the city streets and said that it was the decision of the LTFRB – Central Office which nixed the opposition of the local government and carried on with its plan to open the selection process.

Councilor Benny Bomogao, chair of the City Council committee on public utilities, transportation and traffic legislation, disputed the claim of the LTFRB in Board Resolution No. 243 Series of 2019 that “the issues and concerns surrounding the suspension of opening of taxi franchises in Cordillera Administrative Region, particularly Baguio City, had been properly addressed and threshed out by concerned agencies and LGU, paving the way for the lifting of the said suspension.”

There was no consultation between the LTFRB and LGU-Baguio in which the latter gave its approval for the lifting of the said suspension, said Bomogao, citing records of the city.

AITODC president James Bolinao was informed further that the city government has made an appeal which was elevated to the Department of Transportation, but still awaiting resolution.

In his decision letter last January 29, LTFRB chair Martin Delgra III directed the Regional Franchising and Regulatory Office – Cordillera Administrative Region (RFRO-CAR) to carry on with the application process.

“After the thorough evaluation and review of the allegation propounded by all the oppositors, the board finds no cogent reason to vacate the implementation of Board Resolution No. 117 Series of 2020,” Delgra wrote.

He added that there is a need to the opening of the application for the 200 taxi units to fill in the gap between the existing number of taxi units and the actual demand.

LTFRB maintained that there is a deficit of 183 units to cater to the riding public in the city adding that the 200 units are not new franchises but replacements of the abandoned and expired ones.

“The RFRO-CAR may accept applications for taxi services when justified in a gradual and calibrated manner,” Delgra noted.

In 2020, various transport groups and the city government represented by Mayor Benjamin Magalong filed their respective position papers opposing the application of 200 taxi units.

The entry of the 200 additional taxi units, the city government contended, do more harm than good, arguing that the current number was more than sufficient to cater to the needs of the riding public in the region.

However, the LTFRB rejected the opposition against the implementation of the board’s Memorandum Circular No. 2019-016, which opened the application for the additional 200 taxi units, and LTFRB Resolution No. 117 Series of 2020, which reopened the selection process since the first four applicants were disqualified.

The appeal has been filed before the DOTr.

The city council has been opposing the move to open the application for 200 taxi units since 2019.

Taxi drivers are actually complaining on why more cabs are now allowed to ply the streets with people staying home more often due to the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

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