Senate bill seeks to protect taxi passengers against abusive drivers

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FILE PHOTO. A bill seeking to protect taxi commuters against "abusive, itinerant, and discourteous" drivers has been filed in the Senate.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 9) — A bill seeking to protect taxi commuters against "abusive, itinerant, and discourteous" drivers has been filed in the Senate.

Senator Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian filed Senate Bill 730 which enumerates the rights of taxi passengers and penalizes offenses committed by drivers against commuters.

“We have seen countless videos and heard sordid stories of cab drivers who are abusive, negligent and (who) prey on unsuspecting passengers,” Gatchalian said.

“They pick passengers on their terms, refuse carriage for some destinations, force you to pay an extra amount on top of the meter bill, are discourteous and tricks most passengers on circuitous routes to earn extra money,” he added, noting that foreign tourists have been victimized by such practices.

These practices, the senator said, have “been tolerated and ignored for lack of laws that singly protect our commuting public.”

The bill requires all taxis to be “clean, safe, smoke-free, and in good condition,” and the driver properly-dressed, not under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs, courteous and ready to provide assistance.

Under the proposed bill, passengers should be picked up and brought to their stated destination regardless of the length of the journey or traffic condition.

They should be issued printed official receipts and allowed to travel with an animal or portable mobility aid.

Passengers can refuse multiple hiring, request a quiet atmosphere throughout the trip, and decide on the orientation of air conditioning and lighting systems.

Moreover, the bill also requires taxis equipped with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel system to display a motor vehicle inspection report issued by the Land Transportation Office and a sticker marked "LPG" or "CNG" issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

All taxis must also have a functioning automatic door lock system.

Drivers and taxi operators who will violate the proposed policies may face fines of P1,000 to P5,000, and a license suspension of up to one year.

The fine proceeds will fund seminars for erring drivers and operators.

The LTFRB, Department of Transportation, and Philippine Information Agency will conduct a nationwide education campaign on the measure if it gets enacted.

The bill has been referred to the Senate committee on public services.

Gatchalian also filed the same bill in the House of Representatives in 2014 when he was a Valenzuela representative.