City dads continue to oppose 200 add’l cabs
The city council continues to reject the entry of additional 200 taxi slots in the city being pushed for by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory board (LTFRB).
The Sanggunian’s Committee on Public Utilities, Transportation, and Traffic Legislation chaired by Councilor Benny Bomogao has expressed strong opposition against the board’s persistent move to accept applicants for the 200 taxi units in replacement of the “expired and abandoned” franchises.
Guided by the study and recommendations submitted by the Traffic and Transportation Management Division (TTMD) of the City Engineering Office and the petition papers by different transport groups, the committee restated its earlier position that the entry of additional taxi units in the city will do more harm than good.
There are 3,227 active taxi franchises at present as per LTFRB report. The committee expressed that this number is more than sufficient to cater to the needs of the riding public in the region. According to a study cited by the committee, the city requires only 2,452 taxi units for Baguio residents and 769 units for LISTT (La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay) areas or a total or 3,121 taxi units for the BLISTT. The committee noted that these taxi units operate mainly in Baguio City.
The committee asserted in their report that any deficiency in the supply of taxi units can be resolved by lifting the city’s existing number coding policy exclusively for taxis which would easily generate additional taxi units plying on the city roads.
The preparation of the Land Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) is another ground for setting aside the plan to add more taxis, the committee also noted.
“The LPTRP will promote mass transportation ridership through efficient fleet management. Its implementation will create an impact on the riding behavior of the public, and it is expected to reduce the use of regular taxis. There is likewise a need to study further the use of other transport systems that cater to unserved areas that are not served by regular taxis,” the committee report read.
The TTMD, in its report, appealed to the LTFRB to wait for the finalization of the LPTRP to see if there is really a need to increase taxi services in the city.
As cited by the committee, a study done in 2017 shows that taxis only share 10% of ridership but contribute 27% of traffic congestion in the city roads while jeepneys share 57% of ridership but contribute 23% of traffic congestion. The 200 additional taxi units will exacerbate the city’s current traffic woes, the committee stated.
The committee also highlighted the LTFRB’s failure to coordinate and consult with the city government and the affected sectors. According to the committee, the LTFRB never communicated with the LGU regarding their “unilateral plan” to open the application for additional taxi franchises for Baguio and La Trinidad, Benguet to any point in the region.
The committee further slammed the board for not having heeded the call of the local government to abort its plan to open the application for the additional taxi units.
The committee said the board’s move contradicts its own existing moratorium on the issuance of franchises in the city. According to the committee, the moratorium stands like a special law that cannot be repealed by any subsequent memorandum such as MC 2019-16.
On July 2, 2020, the LTFRB passed a resolution (LTFRB Resolution No. 117, Series of 2020) accepting new applications for the additional 200 taxi units. The LTFRB resolution stated no applicants qualified during the selection process for the opening of 200 taxi units which was done in 2019. All four applicants namely Cordillera Basic Sectors Cooperative, Ermadrada Taxi Transport Corp, NJL Transport, and BLISTT Alliance of Transport Multi-purpose Cooperative were disqualified during the pre-evaluation stage.
The LTRB resolution has caused a stir among various transport groups.
In a letter of opposition penned by Susie Rosales, et al, the transport groups described the LTFRB’s action as “grossly unresponsive, unfair, and prejudicial” to the existing PUV operators and drivers and to the public.
They also bemoaned the drastic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to the city’s taxi services and further described the LTFRB’s move as “ill-timed, unjustifiable, and inequitable.”
“While we, the drivers and operators, are struggling with the crippling effect of the pandemic to our livelihood, we were blindsided by the action of the LTFRB in allowing the re-opening of additional taxi units especially at this worst of time,” the letter added.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong has likewise expressed opposition to the board’s move to reopen the application for additional taxi franchises in the city.
“I am objecting to this for the simple reason that we have oversupply of taxis amid this pandemic. Besides, the City Government was never consulted on this,” the mayor said.
During the regular session on October 19, Bomogao revealed that the LTFRB had urged Mayor Benjamin Magalong to submit a position paper regarding the city’s opposition to the additional taxis. The report prepared by the committee shall be used by the City Legal Office in the preparation of the position paper which is due on October 20.
The committee report was unanimously approved by the council members.** Jordan G. Habbiling