U-Hop still hopeful its TNC application will be granted

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Oct 27 (PNA) — Filipino-developed app-based shuttle service U-Hop on Tuesday expressed hope that its application as a Transport Network Company or TNC will eventually be granted by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

In a statement e-mailed to the Philippines News Agency, U-Hop Assistant Vice President for Corporate Communications Cristina Pettersson-Manalaysay said that the company was saddened by reports that the LTFRB did not approve its application but noted that the company continued to communicate with the LTFRB.

“We continue to coordinate with the LTFRB so that they can grant us accreditation as the first Filipino Transport Network Company,” Manalaysay said in Filipino.

“We hope we are given the opportunity to push our program that aims to provide safe, convenient, and reliable transportation for the public,” she added.

LTFRB, in a memorandum issued last Oct 23, sought the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to study and formulate a policy for TNCs on a Shuttle Service Mode.

The same memorandum noted that U-Hop’s current business model “is not what the department envisioned for TNCs.”

Reports surfaced on LTFRB having denied U-Hop’s application, however, this was quickly clarified by LTFRB board member Atty. Ariel Inton, who said that the Board wrote a recommendation to open a new denomination for TNCs in a Shuttle Service Mode and did not exactly deny their application.

LTFRB Chairman Atty. Winston Ginez also set the record straight by pointing out that U-Hop cannot yet be accommodated as a TNC, reiterating that its business model is not in accordance with the Board’s ‘no fixed route’ policy.

“We said that they so far, U-Hop doesn’t comply with our rules given their business model,” Ginez said, noting that the word “denied” mentioned in the LTFRB Twitter account was used “diplomatically”.

“We cannot act on the application so we wrote a memorandum addressed to the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications),” he added.

To qualify as a TNC, a vehicle should not carry passengers under a fixed route. Vehicles applying as TNCs are also prohibited from carrying more than seven passengers. U-Hop operates under a fixed route and seats more than seven passengers.

”There is a possibility that if the DOTC approves our recommendation to open a new transport category for Shuttle Service Mode, U-Hop can be accredited. For now, it can’t,” he added.

U-Hop, however, argued that they were convinced that its business model did not violate the law.

”We at U-Hop followed the legal process and we did not violate the law. We formally presented our business model to LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez last July 14. The next day, we filed our application as a TNC. But for some reason, this was not approved by the LTFRB,” U-Hop said.

”We also explained the concept of U-Hop to DOTC Sec Joseph (Emilio) Abaya. Sec Abaya liked our business model,” the company added.

U-Hop also sought for “fair treatment” similar to treatment received by other TNCs and added that the company was prepared to defend its rights under the law. (PNA)