Sunday, September 16, 2018

UPDATED: Grab Hopes to "End the Wait" with Added TNVS Slots


UPDATE: The LTFRB responds (see statement below) 9/18.

According to Grab, only 40 percent of passengers can get a ride on a daily basis, and this figure drops to 20 percent on Fridays and rainy days. And they say, it’s the LTFRB to blame.


How so?
Well, the LTFRB has a master list of registered TNVSes that are allowed to service passengers. All in all, the regulatory body set a 65,000-vehicle cap, 55,000 of which are in Metro Manila.

However, Grab says that only 35,000 drivers are on the road daily. That’s because there are inactive drivers on the LTFRB’s master list that cannot be replaced. The inactivity is because of the fact that not all drivers are full-time. Additionally, 20 percent of Grab drivers are affected by coding and “other needs every day” and that 15 percent naturally drop-out of the system over time, for various reasons.

This means that there are only 35,000 available drivers to service 600,000 Grab bookings every day.

Last August 24, the LTFRB responded partly to Grab’s request and added 10,000 additional slots for TNVS applications. This recent development but the TNCes closer to the mandated 65,000-cap—a pefect time since everyone is expecting a spike in demand this Christmas season.

That said, Grab says that the LTFRB needs to set a higher supply cap—as much as 80,500 in order to achieve the equivalent of 65,000 daily active units. The LTFRB is currently reviewing its master list to determine the number of units to add and/or replace with cars already on the road.

For its part, Grab says that if they are able to replace inactive drivers in their system, they can service more than 150,000 additional bookings daily.

A few days after this new story came out, the LTFRB released a statement regarding the accusations of Grab. For transparency, we are printing it here in full (emphasis ours):

A RESPONSE TO GRAB’S STATEMENT THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS TO BLAME FOR THE TNVS “SUPPLY CRISIS”

It has come to the attention of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) that GRAB has been sending its members/drivers an e-mail essentially blaming the government for what they call a “supply crisis.”

GRAB claims that the crisis stemmed from the “masterlist” of vehicles allowed to service passengers and the “supply cap” of 65,000. According to GRAB, out of this number, only 35,000 are on the road on a daily basis due to coding, part-time drivers, and other reasons. Further, GRAB is telling its members that the LTFRB has not acted on its proposal to increase the supply cap.

DOTr-LTFRB takes this opportunity to respond to the following issues raised in the email so that all stakeholders may be enlightened and be guided accordingly:

1. The so-called “Masterlist” was determined in consultation with the accredited TNCs at the time namely Grab, Uber and U-Hop, to which Grab conceded. The Masterlist included Transportation Network Company (TNC) accredited TNVS that have been operating without valid franchises or Provisional Authority (PA), otherwise described as COLORUM vehicles.

In order not to disrupt service, COLORUM TNVs were allowed to continue to get bookings in the meantime and accept passengers through the Grab system, their inclusion in the Masterlist gives them ‘temporary legitimacy,’ while they are given time to apply for a franchise. With the current number of TNCs servicing the TNVS already operating, among them Hype, Owto, GoLag and Epickmeup, service will not be adversely affected. More, two new TNCs – Hirna and Micab - are servicing the taxi service while several other TNCs whose applications are pending consideration.

2. The number coding scheme, which reduced the number of available cars on the roads of Metro Manila, did not come from LTFRB. In fact, it is the position of the agency that all public transport be exempt from the number coding scheme in order to be able to offer the riding public more public transport options and thus discourage the use of private vehicles. Further, the MMDA, through General Manager Jojo Garcia, likewise expressed their agency’s intent to lift the number coding scheme for all public utility vehicles, provided that the private sector will extend their full cooperation and support in initiatives such as carpooling, and utilization of public transport.”

3. Grab seems to confuse drivers with TNVS in determining supply. LTFRB issues franchises or Provisional Authority (PA) to TNVS for them to legally get bookings and accept passengers. Hence, if a TNVS with a PA or franchise cannot run because it does not have driver, it can find a replacement driver.

4. Currently, LTFRB is accepting applications for TNVS franchises, even outside the Masterlist, contrary to the statement of Grab that TNVS allowed to apply for a franchise are limited to the Masterlist. In fact, LTFRB has just completed the online registration of 10,000 new cars in addition to the Masterlist, with plans to open registration for TNVS applicants for those slots in the masterlist which have become inactive.

We note Grab sharing its position on these issues in public notwithstanding the frequent, open and cordial dialogue with TNCs, including Grab. It makes us wonder however why Grab puts LTFRB on the spot, so to speak and in an uncomfortable position. As DOTr and LTFRB seek ways to expedite to complete the target of 65,000 TNVS with the required franchises, it is to Grab’s best interest to engage its own constituency and help clarify the issues.

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