The Filipino government is working on a new category of regulations specifically tailored for ridesharing apps like Uber. According to an announcement on the Department of Transportation and Communications, the rules will be introduced later this week and include guidelines on vehicle safety and driver screening.
The new regulatory framework will benefit Uber and local rivals like Tripid, which ran into trouble with Filipino law last year because they did not first secure a franchise or the permit that companies need to operate public utility vehicles. Other competitors like GrabTaxi and Easy Taxi sidestepped the issue by partnering with existing taxi fleets that already have franchises.
Fast-growing ridesharing apps like Uber have faced legal headaches in other countries because local laws have not caught up with their expansion, making it unclear how these startups are supposed to be regulated under laws originally designed for traditional taxi fleets.
In New Delhi, for example, Uber had to apply for a taxi license, even though it had initially argued that it was exempt because it is a technology company that serves as a platform to connect drivers and riders and not a traditional taxi fleet operator. The company has also met with similar difficulties in South Korea and China for not adhering to the same rules as cab companies, even though its business is structured differently.
Having regulations specifically designed for ridesharing apps will clear up confusion and make Uber’s expansion in the Philippines a lot easier.
The company hailed the DOTC in a blog post today, stating that with these “new regulations, ridesharing has officially been recognized as a vital part of the Philippine government’s long-term solution for delivering safe, efficient and reliable transport options for the people of Metro Manila and beyond. The regulation represents a groundbreaking approach that brings the benefits of smart technologies to all commuters and the transportation industry in the Philippines.”
Jun Abaya, secretary of the DOTC, said that he had consulted with Uber and other ridesharing apps on the new regulations, which require vehicles used by Uber drivers to be under seven years old. In addition, cars must also have GPS installed, and drivers need to be screened and certified by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, a government agency.