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Uber urges Congress to enact a law on carpooling

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  • Legislators should enact a law to encourage carpooling to solve the country’s crisis in vehicular traffic.

    Using technology to cram more people into fewer cars should decongest the metropolis, Uber Manila General Manager Laurence Cua suggested.

    Carpooling through a smartphone app connects people wanting to share their ride with those needing a lift, he explained. “Uber in the Philippines is part of this carpooling effort. We have made some progress, but if we enact laws that make ride-sharing  or ‘mobility bayanihan’ easier, we can do way more,” said Cua, who blamed the traffic problem on car ownership.

    About 78 percent of the road space in Metro Manila is taken up by private vehicles. Traffic in the capital is the worst in the world and costs the economy R2.4-billion loss daily.

    “Uber didn’t start out as way to reduce congestion. Our founders were looking for a cheap and efficient way to get a ride,” he explained.

    “But as the service was rolled out around the world, the engineering team noticed riders were making a lot of trips at around the same time in a similar direction. That presented a challenge: Through the smart application of technology, could we find way to match them and get them in the same vehicle safely and with the minimum of hassle? It turns out we could.”

    The service, called UberPool, worked in many of the world’s largest cities.

    “We are already seeing the impact in Manila. Forty days after its launch, more than 73,000 people have opted to use the service and the number is growing fast. This has cut the number of kilometers driven by at least 578,000 — equivalent to 27,200 liters of fuel and 64,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide in just under two months.”

    While over 300,000 Filipinos regularly use the technology that makes ride-sharing and carpooling affordable, “All that is missing is one thing: Regulations that take into account this new reality,” Cua stressed.

    “That’s why I asked the Senate that the country create laws that ensure private vehicles can be used effectively for ride-sharing.”

    Vehicles on ride-sharing platforms are neither public nor private, but fall somewhere in between. For that reason, he is proposing a new license category for ride-share vehicles – with common sense regulations that ensure safety, convenience and welfare for everyone.

    Everyday, Filipinos share their cars on the Uber platform and save money for their families, their vacations or their children’s education. To get licensed, they need more than 16 documents, and must wait in line for hours to check off requirements that just aren’t needed. “Many people simply give up,” he lamented.

    “Mass transit systems take decades to build. Ride-sharing is available here, today. All we need to do now is to keep pooling together.” ( Emmie Abadilla, mb)

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