According to one Uber operator, a source from inside the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has informed him that the agency is conducting another round of stings even as the agency has said the entrapment operations will be suspended. Uber is the much-praised ride-sharing service that provides transportation on a reservation basis. It is like a taxicab service except the customer gets to pick the ride (privately owned, by the way)--not to mention enjoy fixed rates (as opposed to many taxi drivers often demanding "contract" rates or tips).
Because of its generally better service--better cars, courteous drivers and enhanced security--more and more people in Metro Manila are preferring Uber to regular taxicabs, prompting taxi operators to complain to LTFRB about the "unfair competition." Manila isn't the first and only place where Uber has met aggressive opposition from taxi owners and drivers. The same protest has occurred in the UK, the US, Germany and France, among other countries Uber does business in.
So now, pressured by the presumably big lobby group of taxi operators, the LTFRB recently carried out apprehensions of Uber vehicles. The offense Uber operators are being charged with is "colorum violation," which is defined as "a private motor vehicle operating as a public utility vehicle without proper authority from the LTFRB." Under the revised fines and penalties released by the Department of Transportation and Communications this year, this violation carries the following fines for the first offense:
* Bus - P1,000,000 plus minimum of three-month impounding period;
* Truck - P200,000 plus minimum of three-month impounding period;
* Van/SUV - P200,000 plus minimum of three-month impounding period;
* Sedan - P120,000 plus minimum of three-month impounding period;
* Jeepney - P50,000 plus minimum of three-month impounding period;
* Motorcycle - P6,000 plus minimum of three-month impounding period.
According to the Uber operator, he got word from an LTFRB insider that the agency is offering 10% of the fine to any "agent" who will entrap an Uber vehicle. Said LTFRB agents are allegedly going after the SUVs as these carry a bigger fine, guaranteeing that they will get P20,000 as kickback.
"LTFRB will continue their apprehensions," said the Uber operator. "They're just deceiving the public when they say that they will suspend their ops against us."
As you read this, Uber is defying the hostile sanctions from LTFRB, and its operators are still doing business as usual. As a precaution, Uber has provided its operators and drivers a dedicated hotline in case the latter get apprehended by LTFRB operatives.
"Uber has given us a number to text if we get caught, and has promised to provide a lawyer and help with the fine," shared another Uber operator.