When just over a year to go before leaving office, the Benigno Aquino administration introduced in May 2015 a new measure to allow Uber, Grab Taxi, Tripda and Easy Taxi to enter the market in direct competition with traditional meter taxicabs. This action was described as one designed to ease traffic congestion through “efficient use of road space.”
“We are implementing these new categories to promote innovation and modernization,” said Joseph Emilio Abaya, the then secretary of transportation and communications. What benefit this “innovation and modernization” introduced just a year before regime change has produced? Has the availability of Uber, Grab Taxi, etc., persuaded private motorists to leave their car home and ride to work in any of these relatively expensive modes of transport and reduce road congestion? There is no such indication on the roads of metro cities.
What exactly inspired the Aquino administration first to stop releasing new licenses for metered taxis and subsequently start granting licenses to Uber, Grab Taxi, Tripda and Easy Taxi is, in itself, an interesting question.
Whatever the reason for that action, the entire system of taxicab licensing is tuned towards helping moneyed middlemen become richer at the expense of people who drive taxis for a living. These drivers are one of the most exploited segments of the working class.
The primary equipment for them to start working and earning an income – a motorcar and taxi operation license – are too expensive to acquire.
A standard motor vehicle – Toyota Vios, for example – costs 599,000 pesos at December 2016 price. Dealers do sell for 20% down payment (119,800 pesos) and the balance payable over three years.
Nonetheless, hardly anyone considering a taxi-driving job for the livelihood of his family can afford 119,800 pesos as down payment and an even larger additional sum of money to obtain a taxi license. (Since the Aquino administration stopped issuing new taxi licenses, some of the existing license holders are selling licenses at exorbitant prices ranging from over 250,000 pesos for the license alone or 370,000-700,000 pesos for a cab and license.)
(To be continued...)