Public disservice

MARTIN Delgra III. Ronaldo Corpus and Aileen Lourdes Lizada.

These are the names that tens of thousands of commuters should keep in mind when they have difficulty getting to work or going home after a long day at the office. 

They are the chairman and board members of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, which suspended the transport network company  Uber for a month, barring it from deploying any of the 66,000 Uber drivers who ply the roads for a living.

The LTFRB says it is penalizing Uber because it continued to accept new applications despite an order to stop accrediting drivers into their systems starting July 26, 2017. That order, it said, was to avoid raising false expectations that these drivers could engage in the public transport business without the necessary permits from the board.

But in a Twitter post, Uber said applications for vehicles were “being accepted but not processed, as we are optimistic that with the ongoing discussions with the LTFRB, ride-sharing has a path forward.”

Without splitting hairs over what “accepting applications” means and assuming Uber did violate the order, the LTFRB decision to suspend it for a month over an administrative violation was excessive, in that it punishes not just the company but also close to 200,000 commuters who take Uber daily, and the 66,000 drivers who rely on their vehicles to make a living.

Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public service, put it well when she called the LTFRB decision to suspend Uber “cruel and absurd.”

“I am aghast that this agency that committed before the Senate to resolve the issues has just imposed a cure that will only make the disease much worse,” Poe said in a statement.

“It does not solve the problem, but further exacerbates the problem of having an utter lack of safe, reliable, and convenient transportation options for our people.

“The issue is not about roadworthiness but one that involves a mere administrative violation, which should have merited a corresponding administrative penalty. The penalty should not further prejudice the public and place the riders’ wellbeing at risk by limiting their options.”

Uber filed a motion for reconsideration on Tuesday, saying the suspension violated its right to due process. LTFRB said the suspension stays, the appeal notwithstanding, despite its own order that says a pending motion has the effect of a stay of the earlier ruling.

On its own Twitter page, the LTFRB seeks to soften the blow by discrediting Uber while seeking “patience and understanding” from the public that has clearly been inconvenienced by its actions.

We have little reason to show patience and understanding to an agency that has failed miserably in keeping public transportation clean, safe, dependable and affordable.

As first-hand research, may we suggest that the LTFRB brass, led by Delgra, Corpus and Lizada give up their chauffeured air-conditioned vehicles for a month and try commuting to and from work on dilapidated taxis with poor air conditioning and hygiene. Or they could take their chances on the rickety MRT and hope the train does not stall or run off the tracks. And if they’re really feeling lucky, weave in and out of traffic at breakneck speeds in an LTFRB-registered bus or jeepney.

A Palace spokesman has defended the LTFRB, saying it recognizes the benefits given by transport network companies but also that Uber “unduly challenged its [LTFRB’s] rules and instructions.”

A month of this and these officials might finally realize what a disservice they are doing to the commuting public.

Topics: Editorial , Public disservice , Uber , Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board , LTFRB , Senator Grace Poe
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