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‘Oversupply’ prompts Baguio to again block opening of 200 new taxi franchises

‘Oversupply’ prompts Baguio to again block opening of 200 new taxi franchises

By Vincent Cabreza 

BAGUIO CITY –– The city government again expressed its opposition to the processing of 200 taxi service franchises for Baguio, anchored on Mayor Benjamin Magalong’s assertion that an “oversupply” of taxis has been ferrying residents since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board reopened the bidding process for 200 of these franchises in July, according to the city information office.

About 3,000 taxis and 5,000 public utility jeepneys ply the city.

Magalong and the City Council first registered their objections to the LTFRB in 2019. Baguio was not properly consulted about the 2019 decision to add new taxis in the summer capital, according to the mayor.

Among the Baguio government’s redevelopment plans to address overcrowding and the breach of Baguio’s carrying capacity is to pilot a low carbon urban transport initiative of the Department of Transportation.

The program would introduce environment-friendly public utility vehicles or alternative mass transport systems like trams or cable cars to the mountain city.

But transport groups applying for the 200 franchises insisted that these were expired franchises, when they addressed the Council on Monday, Aug. 10.

About 190 of the 3,423 taxi units plying Baguio streets have lapsed operating franchises, which could be acquired by transport organizations as mandated by the government’s transport modernization program, said Rey Bacoco, who spoke on behalf of a transport firm.

He said his company’s bid application was accepted on July 24 and was opened by LTFRB on August 6.

“We have been agonizing over this for a year. [We applied for 200 taxi franchises] to support the public utility vehicle modernization program, which intends to reform the business model for efficient mass transport,” said Jun Panayo, who represents a transport service cooperative.

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Some taxi drivers and operators banded together, believing that a fleet of taxis would benefit from a manager, a safety engineer, and a fleet mechanic, Panayo said.

“It’s about time we do this if we don’t want to be left behind,” he said.

But Councilor Joel Alangsab argued that the 190 franchises lapsed because LTFRB refused to renew them.

IN FILE PHOTO: Over 3,000 taxi cabs serve Baguio residents, which city officials believe are sufficient when transport officials began processing applicants for 200 new taxi franchises for the summer capital. PHOTO BY EV ESPIRITU taken in 2015

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