LTFRB: Grab and Uber drivers can keep working – if they have papers

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 12) — Grab and Uber drivers can continue taking passengers on their ride-sharing apps, but only if they have the proper authorization from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

The regulator is still reviewing the accreditation of Grab and Uber but its inaction so far should be considered an extension of their validity, an official said.

"We have not suspended their accreditation so they can still go on doing their business. Their accreditation is valid until such time that we say it is junked," LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lizada said in an interview on Wednesday.

However, Lizada emphasized that only drivers with LTFRB approval are allowed to work. They must have either a certificate of public convenience (CPC), which is valid for a year, or a provisional authority (PA), which lasts for 45 days. Otherwise, they will be considered "colorum" or illegal.

The LTFRB stopped processing new driver applications last July, citing the huge volume pending. While Grab and Uber are still allowed to train new drivers, they cannot let them go online and accept bookings.

Lizada explained: "Grab and Uber can still conduct their sign-ups, their onboarding, their training. This is so once the LTFRB lifts its suspension on new applications, drivers are ready. But for now, they must not be given any links or apps that will let them take passengers already."

The LTFRB found that Grab and Uber have committed several major violations since they were accredited as transport network companies (TNC) in 2015.

Chief among them is allowing drivers to work even with no franchises. Some drivers have also been accused of trading franchises among themselves. Grab and Uber also failed to require their drivers to wear IDs and put company signage on their cars.

Grab and Uber were each fined ₱5 million for the violations. The LTFRB stopped short of junking their accreditation altogether, opting to hold them instead. 

READ: LTFRB fines Grab, Uber ₱5 million each for violations

The regulator warned the TNCs, though, that they must start policing their ranks better. This, as unauthorized drivers make up bulk of Grab and Uber's pool. The TNCs estimated their active drivers at about 27,000-28,000 each, with only about 3,000-4,000 of them with CPCs and PAs.

"Getting accredited as a TNC comes with responsibilities. These are the same rules that apply to other modes of transport," Lizada said.

She stressed that any further violations would be considered in the review of Grab and Uber's accreditation.

In response, Grab has announced it would no longer activate any new drivers onto its platform starting July 17, Monday. Existing drivers will be kept on.

"It is concern for the safety and welfare of our current partners that we make this decision. We know that there are still many of you who want to join the Grab platform, but we need to ensure that our existing partners are not placed at unecessary risk," Grab Country Manager Brian Cu said in a social media post on Wednesday.

Uber declined to comment.