Sen. Bam: Let’s work with rideshare companies, prioritize commuters

Sen. Bam Aquino called on the government to listen to the commuting public and to develop reasonable standards for online ride-sharing applications that promote easy and safe commuting.

“We need to provide the commuting public with better options and alternatives to improve their daily commuting experience. The government must work with rideshare companies that share this mission and develop suitable standards and requirements for them,” said Sen. Bam.

Last year, Sen. Bam submitted a measure promoting and encouraging new, affordable and safe transportation options for the commuting public, like Uber and Grab.

 “In any industry, increased competition often leads to improved quality, improved service, and lower prices for consumers. For the commuting public, this is a change they have long clamored for,” said Sen. Bam in his Senate Bill No. 696 or the Rideshare Support Company Act.

In a memorandum circular (MC), the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has already recognized these innovations “as a driver for progress” and as one of the solutions to “help address the increasing demand for mobility spurred by rapid urbanization.”

 “I urge the LTFRB to address this issue of penalties for rideshare companies,” said Sen. Bam. “Then we can focus on passing legislation to develop the industry and to ensure these new transport networks are held accountable for offenses.”

 While the MC is significant milestone for the promotion of ride-sharing services in the country, Sen. Bam said legislation is needed to create and institutionalize an appropriate regulatory framework for this new type of service and to distinguish it from public transport services.

 The proposed measure clarifies the regulations governing Transportation Network Companies, or Rideshare Support Companies (RSCs), as well as Rideshare Network Drivers and Vehicles.

Once approved, RSCs must obtain certificate of accreditation from LTFRB before getting an authority to onboard qualified Rideshare Network Driver (RND) after a thorough background check and submission of pertinent documents.

Qualified RNDs must also have a minimum P200,000 per passenger personal accident insurance by licensed Philippine insurer.

Senate Bill No. 696: Rideshare Support Company Act

The rain is pouring heavily and commuters are muddled together under the shade. Taxi queues are long and winding yet taxis are nowhere in sight.

Those that decide to brave the rain in search for a cab ride are met with picky drivers or unreasonable contracted rates. To make matters worse, stories of robbery perpetrated by malicious taxi drivers, has left passengers with a justifiable fear and distrust of taxis.

In any industry, increased competition would often lead to improved quality, improved service, and lower prices for consumers. For the commuting public, this is a change they have long clamored for.

Recent technological innovations ushered in an era of ride sharing, giving commuters the option of securing convenient, safe, and affordable rides through internet-based applications.

The DOTC has already recognized these innovations “as a driver for progress” and as one of the solutions to “help address the increasing demand for mobility spurred by rapid urbanization.”

In support of these innovations, the DOTC issued a Memorandum Circular (MC) in 2015 to recognize these ride-sharing services under a new category called “Transportation Network Vehicle Service” and allowed them to operate within the agency’s existing regulatory framework.

While the release of the MC is a significant milestone for the promotion of ride-sharing services in the country, there is a need for legislation to create and institutionalize an appropriate regulatory framework for this new type of service and to distinguish it from public transport services.

The proposed bill clarifies the regulations governing Transportation Network Companies, referred to in the bill as “Rideshare Support Companies”, as well as Rideshare Network Drivers and Vehicles.

This measure seeks to promote and encourage new, affordable transportation options and ensure the safety of the riding the public by imposing safety and financial responsibility standards and requirements. 

In view of the foregoing, the approval of this bill is earnestly sought. 


Bam Seeks to Clarify Gov’t Policy on Uber, GrabCar

A senator seeks to investigate the enforcement of government’s programs and policies on new application-based transportation system in the country, such as Uber and GrabCar.

Sen. Bam Aquino filed Senate Resolution No. 1508 after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ordered the apprehension of unregistered Internet application-based transport systems with a fine of P200,000 and impoundment of three months.

The LTFRB’s move came after Department of Transportation and Communications issued Department Order No. 2015-11, which recognizes and puts in place appropriate regulation for four new modes of public transportations such as airport buses, bus rapid transits (BRTs), transport network vehicle service (TNVS) and premium taxi.

“There is a need to delineate and clarify the various transportation policies pertaining to the different transport administration components such as planning, policy making, data management and enforcement,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

“The main challenge of the different government agencies and offices is to align their rules and regulations, as well as policies, in order to solve the worsening traffic conditions in Metro Manila,” the senator added.

In his resolution, Sen. Bam said this lack of communication between the DOTC and LTFRB underscores a National Center for Transportation Studies report, which shows lack of coordination and overlapping functions among transportation and traffic related units of the national and local government units.

“The Department Order was issued in response to the call of Uber, GrabCar, other similar Internet application-based transportation networks, and the public to recognize this innovative technology and be able to operate legally,” Sen. Bam.

“Let us continue supporting emerging industries and new business models, especially in our public transportation system that will enhance competition and provide better service to our fellow Filipinos,” said Sen. Bam, a staunch supporter of start-ups.

BIDA KA!: Kalbaryo sa MRT

Mga Bida, tiyak na marami sa atin ang nakaranas nang maghintay ng ka-meeting sa isang mall ng 40 minuto o higit pa.

Dahil malamig ang paligid at maraming paglilibangan, hindi natin alintana ang pagtakbo ng oras habang hinihintay ang pagdating ng ating kausap.

Kabaligtaran nito ang sitwasyon ng libu-libong kataong nagtitiyagang pumila para lang makasakay sa MRT araw-araw.

Sa gitna ng mainit na araw o malakas na ulan, walang magawa ang kawawa nating mga kababayan kundi pumila upang mas mabilis na makarating sa kanilang paroroonan.

Sa pagtaya ng Light Rail Authority (LRA), nasa pagitan ng 30 hanggang 40 minuto ang hihintayin ng isang pasahero para makasakay sa MRT-3.

Kung mamalasin, mas matagal pa rito ang paghihintay kapag nagkaroon ng aberya, na madalas nangyayari ngayon dahil na rin sa kalumaan ng tren pati na rin ng sistema.

Sa kabila nito, tinitiis pa rin ng ating mga kababayan ang 40 minutong pagpila kaysa magkaugat na sa grabeng trapik sa EDSA.

Kung isasama nga ang 30 minutong biyahe sa oras ng paghihintay, kung galing sa Quezon City, nasa Makati o ‘di kaya’y Pasay ka na sa loob lang ng 70 minuto.

Mas mabilis pa rin ito kumpara sa dalawa hanggang tatlong oras na bubunuin kapag sumakay ka ng bus sa EDSA.


May pag-asa pang maibsan ang paghihirap ng ating mga kababayan na umaasa sa MRT sa kanilang pagbiyahe.

Sa pagdinig ng Senate Committee on Public Services kamakailan, sinabi ng isang LRA official na kung makukumpleto lang ang lahat ng kailangang rehabilitasyon, sampung minuto na lang ang hihintayin ng mga pasahero para makasakay.

Ang problema, dalawang taon bago makumpleto ang nasabing rehabilitasyon na mangangailangan ng P6.8 billion.

Sa nasabing rehabilitasyon, bibili ng mga bagong bagon, papalitan na ang mga depektibong riles at ilang mahahalagang bahagi sa sistema.

Ngunit mas tatagal pa ang paghihintay kung magtatagal pa ang alitan sa pagitan ng Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) at Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC), ang pribadong kumpanya na nagpapatakbo sa MRT.

Ang sigalot sa pagitan ng DOTC at MRTC ay nagiging hadlang sa hangarin ng pamahalaan na mapaganda ang sistema ng MRT-3.

Araw-araw nang nagdurusa ang taumbayan sa pagpila ng apatnapung minuto, hindi katanggap-tanggap na paghintayin pa sila ng dalawang taon.

Kung may kailangang ayusin sa sistema, huwag na nating hintayin pa ang 2016 bago ito pondohan.

Ngayon pa lang, simulan na ang proseso para ito’y maayos na sa lalong madaling panahon.

Utang natin sa taumbayan ang mabigyan sila ng maayos at mabilis na sistema ng transportasyon.


First Published on Abante Online

SRN-841: Mrt-3 Malfunction


Whereas, the government heavily subsidizes MRT-3 with a maximum fare set at Php 14.00 from the first station (North Edsa) to the last station (Edsa-Taft). The riding public considers the MRT -3 as one of the most affordable means of public transportation in Metro Manila;

Whereas, last 26 March 2014, the passengers onboard MRT-3 were injured when its driver failed to observe the red light status at the Guadalupe station. The train accelerated without getting clearance from the control center. The MRT -3 is equipped with an automatic train protection system, which kicked in and locked the brakes of the train;

Whereas, despite the previous accidents, the management of MRT issued a statement that MRT-3 remains a safe mode of transport in Metro Manila. In the past few months, there had been computer glitches, which paralyzed a significant portion of MRT -3. This resulted to disgruntled passengers who experience more than hour-long queues at the MRT-3 stations especially during rush hours. Based on news reports, the MRT-3 management admitted that they have been taking measures to prevent similar accidents although the management did not elaborate on the recurring mechanical problems;

Whereas, unresolved MRT problems continue to plague the riding public. On 13 August 2014, an MRT train got derailed along EDSA-Taft station after a coach crashed through the train barrier. Over 30 passengers were injured’ and numerous commuters were stranded because of this accident. Needless to state, the deterioration of the MRT poses grave danger not only to its passengers, but also the public in general;

Whereas, the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) has attested that there is fI need to have a qualified maintenance provider for the MRT system. There h~d also been calls to direct the DOTC to an independent technical audit of the MRT -3 system in order to have a financially and technically qualified maintenance provider with adequate experience to maintain the MRT-3 system;

Whereas, to provide the public a safe metro rail system and enhance the quality of service, there is indeed a need to have a technical audit of the MRT -3, which has to be independent in order to have an objective approach to the process. The different government agencies as well as the private sector should propose long-term solutions to the inefficient operations and maintenance of the MRT-3. A system of shared oversight responsibility should be put in place to ensure the balance of the public and industry interests;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved to direct the appropriate Senate Committees to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the frequent accidents caused by the inefficient operations and maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) with the end view of ensuring the safety of its passengers.


Bam: Solve Long Lines Outside Airports, Trains

While they are focused on the long-term programs to improve the country’s transportation infrastructure, a senator asked government agencies not to overlook the current user experience of the public in airports and train stations.

During the hearing, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco revealed that almost P1 trillion worth of infrastructure projects that will improve the country’s rail, airport and mass transit systems are already in the pipeline.

“While we need to ensure on the progress of these development projects to make sure that we reach these timelines, it is also important to look at the current experiences of our passengers and commuters in our airports and trains,” said Sen. Bam Aquino, referring to the long queues in airports and train stations.

“I have no experience of another airport which asks the passengers to have checks before they enter the airport,” added Sen. Bam, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

While he’s aware of security concerns, Sen. Bam said concerned government agencies must come up with a better process that can be comfortable to our passengers.

“The same goes for our train riders, who have to endure the heat of the sun or rain while waiting in line. This is a big inconvenience that needs to be immediately solved,” the senator added.

Sen. Bam recently filed Senate Resolution No. 1115 calling for an inquiry to look into the prioritization of transportation infrastructure projects and the efficiency of systems management in seaports, airports, expressways and national roads.

Limcaoco said around P890 billion worth of rail and other mass transit projects will create nine additional lines and three additional terminals, accommodating an additional 2.2 million passengers daily.

The projects will establish 140 additional passenger stations and 120 kilometers of additional road and rail mass transit that will cut down average travel time from 2 ½ hours to just one hour.

Limcaoco said the government will earmark about P77.47 billion for the  expansion and modernization of the country’s main airports, including international airports in Manila, Clark, Cebu, Davao, Bohol, Laguindingan, Puerto Princesa, Iloilo and Bacolod.

When asked by Sen. Bam about the timelines of these projects, Limcaoco said the rail and other mass transit projects will be completed in the next five years while the airport projects will be finished in three years.

“It is important for the public to be aware of these programs so we can ensure and monitor that these plans will be completed at the soonest possible time,” Sen. Bam emphasized.


Bam: Improve Philippine Transportation Infrastructures and Coordination

To avoid a repeat of the inconvenience experienced by millions of Filipinos and foreigners who traveled during last year’s Christmas holidays, a senator wants the government to focus on the improvement and integration of major transportation infrastructures.

In his Senate Resolution No. 1115, Senator Bam Aquino calls for an inquiry on the prioritization of transportation infrastructure projects and the efficiency of systems management in seaports, airports, expressways and national roads to streamline its operations to improve the services to the public.

“There is a need for the government to improve its limited network of seaports, airports and expressways so as not to inconvenience the transport of passenger and goods to different parts of the country,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

Sen. Bam’s resolution will be tackled on March 4, 1 p.m. by the Committee on Economic Affairs.

During last year’s holiday season, millions of Filipinos and foreigners experienced heavy traffic and congestion in major ports, airports and toll ways in the country.

Based on news reports, massive traffic was recorded during the holiday rush in the South and North Luzon Expressways. The traffic was attributed to the slow processing of toll payments in the tollgates.

Furthermore, the public had to stop at several tollgates within a short distance and this resulted to the build-up of cars in the expressways.

Flight cancellations and delays were also reported during the recent holiday break in major airports in the country.

In addition, port congestion continues to be a problem with the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) at 86 percent and South Harbor Terminal at 91 percent, far from the ideal utilization level of 70 percent.

Sen. Bam said the government must conduct a periodic planning process that will identify critical road segments and undertake feasibility and economic analysis to determine the investment and improvement in the transportation infrastructure system.

“Different government agencies such as the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) need to intensify their inter-agency work plan and strategy in order to address the recurring heavy traffic in the flow of goods and passengers in the country,” the senator said.

Sen. Bam stressed that ground and air transportation infrastructures are crucial for economic development, domestic and foreign investment, and the growth of the tourism industry, as well as job creation, which are necessary to reduce poverty in the Philippines.

“The quality, adequacy and accessibility of infrastructure facilities and services are needed in order to achieve efficient movement of people and goods, and this ultimately impacts on the country’s competitiveness,” he said.

Sen. Bam Lauds Government’s Efforts to Thresh out Uber Issue

Senator Bam Aquino has lauded the joint efforts of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Uber operators to thresh out regulation issues and work for the welfare of the commuting public.

“As I always say, if we work together, we can do things that will alleviate the plight of the public, especially the commuters,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

Aquino also welcomed the DOTC’s move to reach out to uber operators, saying the government must support innovation and new technology that will beef up its current programs.

“Instead of curtailing them, the government should welcome alternative and new ideas from the private sector as they can help reinforce existing initiative to solve traffic woes,” the senator said.

Earlier, the DOTC, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and uber operators discussed ways to iron out issues regarding existing franchising rules that hamper the latter’s operation.

“We need to support innovative start-up ideas in solving our age-old problems such as the safety and order of our commuting public,” Aquino added.

During the meeting, the LTFRB proposed several moves that will update applicable rules in order to accommodate uber vehicles.

Uber operators, for their part, will work on improving their safety measures, passenger insurance and safety inspection to ensure roadworthiness of their vehicles.

Uber is a high-tech transportation network that makes mobile apps that connect passengers with drivers of private vehicles for hire and car-pooling services. The company arranges pickups wherein cars are reserved by sending a text message or by using a mobile app and within 10 minutes the vehicle would arrive

The uber system helps alleviate the monstrous traffic problems in California, especially through car-pooling.

“The government needs all the help it can get, especially from the private sector, as it continues to find ways to improve the country’s mass transport system and solve the perennial traffic problem,” the senator said.

MRT 40-Minute Waiting Time Unacceptable – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino urged concerned government and private entities to work together to reduce the waiting time for thousands of commuters to ride the MRT-3 from 40 minutes to 10 minutes.

Aquino made this call after he was informed that the waiting time for passengers before they could alight the trains will go down by 75 percent if the proposed rehabilitation plan worth P6.8 billion for the MRT-3 is fully implemented.

“Let’s work together to achieve this 10-minute waiting time. We owe it to the thousands of commuting Filipinos to make life easier for them everyday,” Aquino said after the hearing of the Senate committee on public services on the MRT-3 accident that injured more than 30 people last Aug. 13.

Aquino expressed disappointment when he was informed that the rehabilitation plan could take up to two years with all the legal wrangling between the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC), a private entity.

Aquino branded the Metro Rail Transit-3 as a failed public-private partnership (PPP).

“This is not a good example of PPP, with what happened to our MRT,” Aquino stressed.

Aquino advised DOTC officials to learn from the MRT-3 experience to avoid problems in the future.

 “Can we say that we have learned from experience already and this would not happen again?” Sen. Bam asked DOTC officials, to which they replied ‘yes.’

At the same, the senator also urged the transportation officials to earmark the needed funds to rehabilitate a critical component that causes the MRT-3’s frequent malfunction at the soonest possible time.

The DOTC revealed the trains’ traction motors are the main cause of MRT breakdown as they have reached its limit of usage of 1.5 million kilometers.

 However, Aquino noticed in the presentation that the P94,500,000 fund needed for replacement of traction motors is earmarked in the 2016 budget.

“If this is the main reason why our trains have stopped, how come it wasn’t in the budget last year?” Aquino asked.

Abaya said he has already requested the Department of Budget and Management to include the needed funds in the supplemental budget for 2014.

“If it’s not successful, it will be included in the 2015 budget,” Abaya guaranteed. 

Pahayag ni Senador Bam Aquino sa Aksidente sa MRT

Nakakalungkot na nagkaroon ng aksidente ang isang MRT train ngayon, lalo na at may mga nasaktan sa pangyayari. Kailangang bigyan ng sapat na tulong at pag-aasikaso ang mga nasaktan. Siguraduhin nating maayos ang nangyaring aksidente upang wala nang masaktan pa at maibalik sa dating operations ang MRT ngayong gabi.

Magpapatawag ako ng imbestigasyon sa Senado upang umupo ang iba’t ibang ahensiya at mga grupong mula sa pribadong sektor at pag-usapan ang mga isyu sa MRT system. Ito na rin ang tamang larangan para sama-samang makalikha ng mga solusyon sa panandalian at pangmatagalang panahon.

Mahalaga ang MRT system para sa ating mga pasahero sa Metro Manila dahil ginagamit nila ito para makarating sa kanilang mga opisina, mga paaralan at mga tahanan. Hindi katanggap-tanggap na ang isa sa pinakamahalagang pampublikong sistemang transportasyon ay delikado para sa ating mga pasahero.

Huwag na nating hintayin ang mas malalang aksidente bago asikasuhin ang mga matagal nang dapat pansinin – mas mahigpit na sistema ng inspeksyon, rehabilitasyon at pagpalit ng mga bahagi ng mga tren at railway, at iba pa.

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