House wants to penalize taxi drivers who decline passengers

If passed into law, House Bill 7774 would prohibit taxi drivers from refusing a trip once they have been flagged down by a passenger

Mara Cepeda

Published: 8:10 PM September 12, 2018

Updated: 8:10 PM September 12, 2018

PASSENGER RIGHTS. A House bill approved on 2nd reading seeks to establish a list of passenger rights. File photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Have you ever flagged down a taxi but the driver refused to accept you because of traffic or simply because he did not want to go all the way to your destination?

A House bill that seeks to penalize taxi drivers who do that was approved on 2nd reading at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, September 12.

House Bill (HB) No. 7774 establishes the rights of passengers of taxis, tourist car transport services, and other similar vehicles for hire. (READ: The trouble with taxis)

Letter E, Section 5 of the measure states that passengers have 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," subject to traffic regulations. 

"No driver shall, after having been flagged down or engaged, refuse to transport any passenger," states HB 7774. (READ: #CommuterWatch: 'Choosy' taxi drivers and other transport woes)

What are the penalties? Depending on the frequency of the offense, drivers who would violate the provisions of HB 7774 would be fined P1,000 up to P5,000 and have their driver's license suspended for 7 days up to one year. 

Vehicle operators would also be subjected to a fine ranging from P5,000 to P15,000. 

Erring drivers and operators would have to undergo a mandatory education seminar as well. 

HB 7774 still has a long way to go before it becomes a law, however. It must pass through a 3rd and final reading at the House. Its Senate version remains pending at the committee level.

What are the proposed rights of passengers? Aside from the one stated above, a passenger would have the right to:

Be served by a driver who is properly dressed

Be served by a "courteous driver" who shall provide assistance, if requested

Be informed of the plate number of the vehicle and have emergency numbers of the Philippine National Police and concerned agencies prominently displayed on the vehicle's side door or other conspicuous place in the vehicle

Direct the route or expect the "most economical" route to his or her destination

View the fare meter that shall be duly calibrated and sealed by the authorities

Pay the rate or fare exactly posted in the meter or booking application

Be given the exact amount of change

Be issued a printed, electronic, or digital official receipt

Travel with an animal assistant or portable mobility aid, if applicable

Refuse multiple hiring especially for taxis, unless passengers are informed of and consented to such an arrangement

A quiet or silent atmosphere throughout the trip, upon request

Decide on the orientation of the air conditioning and lighting systems inside the vehicle

Be provided with a substitute vehicle or be assisted to secure one in case of mechanical or engine trouble. If this is not possible, the passenger shall only pay the amount appearing in the meter less the flag-down or booking fee for meter-oriented fare vehicles.

The House bill would also require cabs equipped with a liquefied petroleum gas or compressed natural gas fuel system to display its current Motor Vehicle Inspection Report issued by the Land Transportation Office. The vehicle would have to undergo regular maintenance as well.

Each taxi unit would also be mandated to have a functioning automatic door lock system. 

The passengers' rights would have to be prominently displayed inside the vehicle if HB 7774 becomes a law.

How can a passenger file a complaint? Under HB 7774, passengers whose rights have been violated may file a complaint against the driver or the operator of the vehicle with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

The LTFRB must conduct an investigation and resolve the complaint no later than 7 working days after the mediation or adjudication of the case. –