New TNVS slots spread in Western Visayas

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By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

The head of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Region 6 on Thursday, May 23, clarified that the 1,650 new slots for Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) would be distributed across Western Visayas, not just in the cities currently served.

LTFRB-6 officer-in-charge Salvador Altura Jr. addressed fears from the taxi industry and local governments about market saturation due to additional accredited TNVS units.

He explained that the new slots were allocated for Western Visayas as a whole, not just for Iloilo and Bacolod cities.

These new slots were based on Board Resolution No. 57, series of 2024, approved and signed by the LTFRB’s central office on May 7. The resolution allocated 1,600 new slots for 2024 and 50 for 2025.

Altura added that TNVS applications are processed through accredited transport network companies (TNCs), so it would take time before more TNVS cars appear on the roads.

“The fear that the market would be saturated because of the additional 1,650 slots is always under the control of the TNCs themselves. If they do not process them, there will be no additional TNVS units,” he told the Daily Guardian via phone interview.

“The additional 1,650 units are for Western Visayas, which means that TNCs can base their operations in Aklan, Capiz, Antique, or Guimaras. It doesn’t translate to a franchise operating in Iloilo City,” he added.

Iloilo City currently has 1,100 TNVS slots, and Bacolod has 950, which according to Altura, have not yet been filled.

As of this writing, only one TNC operates in both Bacolod and Iloilo cities, Singapore-based Grab, while another company, California-based InDrive, has expressed interest in piloting in both cities.

Altura also confirmed that the board resolution was issued without consulting the regional office.

“There was no consultation, but we do not expect to be consulted because ever since, we haven’t been consulted on that,” he said.

Regarding the Iloilo City Council’s resolution urging the LTFRB to stop approving TNVS applications due to competition concerns with taxis, he denied asking Councilor Romel Duron to issue such a resolution.

“That is not the exact scenario. Operators of Grab knew of the LTFRB resolution before we did, and they informed me. There was no prior consultation or communication with us in the regional office, so I was surprised by the resolution,” he explained.

“What I said was, ‘If you think it will adversely affect you, you can ask the Sangguniang Panglungsod to urge the LTFRB to recall the board resolution or reduce the units. If our comment is solicited by the board, we will provide it based on our records. But I did not ask anyone to sponsor a resolution for the LTFRB-6 to use against the board’s resolution,'” he added.

Duron, the resolution’s proponent, stated during the council’s regular session on Wednesday, May 22, that Altura had asked him to pass such a resolution.

“Nag-istorya ako kay Atty. Altura, the OIC Director of LTFRB, siling ya, ‘Well, I can’t do anything if you will not pass a resolution, kay may board resolution, I have to follow whatever is ordered to us by the central office. Kun may ma-apply sa amon, naturally, batunon namon, ti kay, open kami. Pero padala kamo sang resolution, kay suportaran ko,’” the councilor narrated during his privilege speech on Wednesday.

“‘Basi maka intervene ang SP or Sangguniang Panglungsod, in collaboration with taxi operators and Grab, nga ma-recall or at least reduce ang numbers. Kay kami ya sa LTFRB, obligado kami mag-issue sang franchise kun indi na ma-recall ang MC 057 dated May 7, 2024. File lang niyo sang board ang inyo nga resolution, kay kun i-solicit niyo ang amon comment, I will support your position,’” he added, reading from a text message he attributed to Altura.