House Bill 7774, otherwise known as the Taxi Passenger Rights Bill, has been approved on its third and final reading this Monday, October 8. The bill, which seeks to establish transportation service standards to address the basic right of taxis, tourist car transport services (TCTS), and other vehicles for hire (VFH), was unanimously approved by all 212 House Members present during Monday’s Plenary session.
Part of the bill authored by Representatives Angelina Tan, Horacio Suansing, Estrelita Suansing, Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Harlin Abayon III, Cesar Sarmiento, Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, Florisa Robes, Edgar Mary Sarmiento and Lorna Silverio is the declaration that the right of private individuals is subject to the policy of the State to establish a world-class public transport system.
The bill enumerates the following as the basic rights of a taxi passenger:
- the right to be served by a driver who is properly dressed. Taxi and TCTS operators should ensure that their drivers wear the prescribed uniform and company identification (ID) card at all times while on duty;
- the right to a courteous driver, who is not under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs;
- the right to be picked up and transported to their stated destination, regardless of the length of the journey or traffic condition, by any available on-duty driver. No driver shall, after having been flagged down or engaged, refuse to transport any passenger;
- the right to direct the route, or expect the most economical route, unless such route would endanger the lives of the occupants or will cause damage to the covered vehicle;
- the right to pay the fare exactly as posted in the meter or booking application, receive the exact amount of change, and be issued a printed, electronic or digital official receipt; and
- the right to a quiet or silent atmosphere throughout the trip upon request, and decide on the orientation of air conditioning and lighting systems inside the covered vehicle.
The bill also requires any VFH using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) to display its current Motor Vehicle Inspection Report (MVIR) issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
Taxi drivers and operators found in violation of the bill face a fine of PHP1,000 to PHP5,000 and PHP5,000 to PHP15,000, respectively. Erring drivers could also have their license suspended for seven days to one year. The liability of the operator with respect to the imposed fines relating to an erring driver shall be lesser than that of the offending driver. Nevertheless, both driver and operator shall be required to attend a mandatory education seminar in case of violation.
Taxi passengers who feel their rights have been violated may file a complaint against the driver or the operator of the vehicle at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). The bill requires the LTFRB to conduct an investigation and resolve the complaint within seven working days.