LTFRB mulls granting franchise to GrabBike
Undeterred by the legal hurdles arising from its approval of Uber and GrabCar, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is considering issuing franchises to app-enabled motorcycle services as well.
In a recent letter to Secretary Joseph Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), LTFRB chair Winston Ginez asked for a meeting to discuss the operations of GrabBike, a service that the company GrabTaxi started offering last month.
In the letter which was formally received by the DOTC on Dec. 16, Ginez maintained that the LTFRB “has the power and function to regulate the operation of a motorcycle-for-hire (service)” under Executive Order No. 202, the law that created the board and gave it regulatory powers over on-land public transports.
However, the board chair noted that GrabBike was not included in an earlier DOTC order regulating TNCs or transport network companies, the new category created for online-booked services like Uber and GrabCar.
He noted that “there is no department policy or issuance authorizing such modes of transportation,” referring to motorbikes for hire.
In a statement, LTFRB member Ariel Inton explained that GrabBike was similar to the “habal-habal” or motorcycles hired to ply certain routes—but he pointed out that such services are “illegal.”
According to Inton, the board used to regulate habal-habal operations but delegated this function to the local government after the passage of the Local Government Code of 1991. Local governments now issue franchises to tricycles.
“We are currently studying whether (to) legalize and grant certificates of public convenience to urban ‘habal-habals’ as one of the answers to the worsening traffic problem in the Metro,” he said.
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