By Alexandria San Juan
Ride-sharing firm Grab Philippines has urged transport regulators to allow pilot testing of hatchbacks as transport network vehicle service (TNVS).
In a statement, the ride-hailing giant said they are seeking support from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to authorize the operation of hatchbacks on the road.
According to Grab Philippines president Brian Cu, allowing thousands of hatchback owners to enter the ride-hailing market could ease the ongoing TNVS supply issue causing difficulty in booking to commuters.
“Right now, we have thousands of hatchback owners who are willing and able to be part of the transport solution for the Filipino commuters, and I hope for the DOTr and the LTFRB to openly consider a pilot testing for them and observe within a specific time period how this best serve the interest of the commuting public, the TNVS owners, and how this largely eases the supply pain points of both the DOTr and the LTFRB,” Cu said.
Cu also cited the recent order issued by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade for a six-month test run of motorcycles as transportation providers.
Two-wheeled vehicles have long been barred by regulators from transporting passengers due to legal and safety issues.
“We hope they would also consider a similar pilot for hatchbacks, which have all passed manufacturer’s international safety standards. This would also help us create a lower-priced category for these hatchbacks which can help address concerns of a segment of the riding public,” the Grab Philippines head explained.
In February last year, the LTFRB issued a memorandum to temporarily allow the use of hatchbacks as a TNVS provider during a three-year transition period, but in Metro Manila only, to help in meeting the demand.
“The Filipino people need a transport solution that works for everyone – in a way that is reliable, safe, and efficient. As we abide by the rules of our regulators to get rid of cars without proper documentation, we must also need to look at how we can all best serve them,” Cu said.
“We need solutions that work for every Filipino, and we hope that both the DOTr and the LTFRB sees the value that these hatchback owners bring to many underserved Filipino commuters,” he added.
The Metro Manila Hatchback Community, a group of TNVS operators and drivers, also asked the LTFRB for full accreditation of hatchbacks as well as the removal of the transition period.
The group argued that hatchbacks as TNVS are fuel efficient and have a higher safety rating compared to motorcycle-taxis, meaning they could provide safe and lower fare for passengers.
More than a thousand hatchback drivers were included in the around 5,000 TNVS providers deactivated by Grab in their platform after failing to complete the requirements for a franchise.
Meanwhile, the LTFRB recently opened 10,000 new slots for TNVS application to not leave a gap in the ride-hailing market.