The Uber Case: In defense of LTFRB


I like Uber. Started using it in Detroit early this year and a few more times in recent months here in Manila. I recommend it to a lot of friends and encourage our people in the office to use it. Same with Grab a Taxi and similar other taxi apps.

This week, the LTFRB has started imposing fines on Uber cars for operating without a license. That’s Php200,000 penalty and 3 months of impoundment. The collateral damage includes all commuters that have been using Uber.


In a megacity city such as Metro Manila where traffic congestion and long taxi lines are a daily routine, Uber offers a fresh solution to commuters. The rides are more comfortable; the drivers are very professional and graciously opens the car door for you. You’d sometimes even get a few fringe benefits like a bottle of mineral water or a piece of candy when you alight.

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However, the LTFRB has openly discouraged the operation of Uber cars because of some regulatory reasons. Since the cars in the Uber pool have no franchise, they are not allowed to provide public service. In short, they are considered as colorum.

While Uber provides the much needed comfort many commuters have been looking for, the LTFRB still has to apply the same law to them as with any other colorum operations by taxis, jeepneys and buses that ply the streets of Manila. Or those habal-habal motorcycles that ferry passengers from Ayala MRT to The Fort.

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Uber has faced exactly the same regulatory issues in other countries in Europe, South Korea and even in its home country in the United States. So it’s not just the LTFRB who has an issue with Uber.

Compared to other taxi apps like GrabTaxi or EasyTaxi where the vehicles have legitimate operators and franchise holders, Uber does not have the same license to operate a fleet. If they applied for a franchise, permit or something similar, and is granted one, then there should not be any problem.

The LTFRB Chairman has indicated that Uber “doesn’t need to secure a franchise because it’s not a transport company, they don’t carry passengers. But through its application, private unlicensed vehicles are able to engage in public land transportation without securing a franchise from LTFRB”.

The FX and UV Express faced the same problems with LTFRB years before but now they are able to operate just fine and under the regulatory umbrella of the LTFRB.

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Uber is a nice technology. Perhaps we should encourage the government and our lawmakers to craft a law that will enable them to be enjoyed by the riding public.

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