The very hot topic of public conversation the past few days has been the LTFRB vs. Grab Uber issue. The public backlash is ongoing and immense. One poll made by James Deakin showed that 99.70% of respondents preferred Grab/Uber over taxis.
For the times that I don’t drive for some reason or other (coding, traffic, limited parking, etc…), and my destination is not easily accessible by LRT, FX or jeepney routes, I prefer using Uber / Grab than trying to hail a taxi (good luck to me!). I have both apps on my phone and I pick the one that gives the cheaper fare, and very often, that’s Uber.
I try to avoid using taxis because I very seldom get a nice, decent, honest taxi driver.
- I usually have to wait for a long time to find a vacant taxi to flag down. It’s worse when there are many of you competing for the taxis.
- Taxi drivers, more often than not, will demand a contract price.
- Taxi drivers will refuse you if you don’t agree to the contract price they are asking for, or if your destination is inconvenient for them.
- I have to be extra on guard in a taxi, checking to make sure all the doors are locked, checking to make sure I’m not being drugged by fumes, taking pictures of the cab info and sending them to friends/relatives, and having to deal with chatty drivers who make parinig pa to give them extra money on top of that! That’s way too much stress just to get from point A to point B!
LTFRB is legally in the right in this matter, I’ll grant them that, but what they are planning to do is just not serving public interest. They need to find a way to be more forward-looking and get with the times. The public is just too burned by their experiences with taxis to ever go back.
LAND TRANSPORTATION OFFICE: Current Issues
There is another Land Transportation agency that’s fortunately, not too hot in the news right now. It’s the Land Transportation Office, and it’s the government agency that handles vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses.
According to an SWS corruption survey back in 2016, it received the most unfavorable ratings together with the Bureau of Customs.
I realize now that I have been very fortunate, because for the past few years that I have been doing the car registrations and driver’s license renewals, they generally went smoothly. No one asked me for any bribe. I go to the LTO branch beside SM Hypermarket across from JRU along Shaw Blvd., and I go there around 1:30 pm (not a peak time).
There is a big sign in front that says something like No Fixers allowed, and there is an actual LTO person manning a “reception” desk who tells you what the process is. When you go inside, the windows are clearly labeled. It is much more organized than what LTO was a decade or two ago.
The staff at this LTO are already very familiar with the processes. They are actually very helpful without making me feel like they are expecting a tip. They give suggestions like “do this step first so you can do the other step while waiting for this to finish”. This helps make the whole experience finish faster. FYI, I don’t give any “tip”, not that anybody asks for grease money. They are doing what they are supposed to do, their job, and I find them friendly and helpful.
Car registrations and driver’s license renewals for me usually take only 1.5 – 2 hours in recent years. Unless there’s broken equipment then I have to go to another LTO to continue the process, but so far, I’ve only experienced that once. I remember in years past, it would take at least half a day or longer to register the car or to renew my driver’s license.
Before this improvement, the LTO was a den of fixers! LTO East Avenue more than a decade ago was particularly nasty.
All this praise doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t any problems. As one of the public who is required to transact with the LTO, the frustrations I have noticed are:
- Why do we have to do this every year? It’s such a waste of time to do this every year just to comply with some government requirement. If they are now making driver’s licenses valid for 5 years, can’t we do the same for vehicle registrations?
- Third-party insurance (TPL) – has anyone ever claimed anything from a TPL? This is usually the first part of the car registration process that I try to get over with. I pay, they type, and then they hand me some papers folded in a plastic envelope. It just feels like a scam to me. The name of the insurance companies sound like fly-by-nights, and I have a nagging suspicion that they are owned by some LTO official’s relatives.
Fortunately, we have never had the experience of injuring anyone while driving, and we never ever want such an exprience! But if TPL is supposed to pay for any injury or death of a third party, then why do I always hear on the news that the driver at fault agrees to pay for the expenses of the people he injured? Hindi ba dapat TPL na ang sasagot?
- Stenciling the VIN – Does this have to be done every year? VINs don’t change, and you’re not supposed to change them, anyway. So why does this still need to be done every time?
- Emission testing. I feel like this is another money-making scheme to milk people out of P500. Don’t they already apprehend smoke-belching vehicles on the road? So this is redundant.
Also, this is just another opportunity for some personnel to make “extra money” by giving failing vehicles passing marks instead.
Has anyone’s vehicle actually failed these tests and then truly got fixed up to stop belching smoke? We only have to see the proliferation of smoke-belching jeepneys and buses on the roads to guess the answer.
And, the emission testing can take some time. There is a reason that I make it a point to go to the LTO at 1:30 PM. If it’s a busy day and it’s near closing time, you might not get accommodated anymore. They will then refer you to an “accredited” emission testing center that is still open, and more expensive!
- 20-30 minutes waiting time each for my name to be called for picture taking, to pay the cashier, and to finally claim my processed documents / stickers / plates
- Stickers / plates / licenses not yet available or equipment is broken. I don’t know if this is currently still an issue, but I hear that it still is. One time, I had to go all the way to Megamall to get my driver’s license because they were the only branch nearby that had a working printer.
- Only available during office hours. If you have a regular day job, tough luck, you need to take some time off to get this done within the office hours of LTO. And if you arrived late because of the terrible Metro Manila traffic, well, you just have to try again tomorrow.
- Having to fit into the LTO schedule: Are we the only country who sets limits on when someone can register their car or renew their license? For car registration, there’s the schedule which goes: ending number is 1 = January, 2 = February, and so on. Then based on the second to the last number, 1&2 = first week of the month, 3&4 = second week, and so on. If you miss your schedule, you are charged a late penalty.
ONLINE CAR REGISTRATION PROPOSAL BY SENATOR JV EJERCITO
After seeing the drastic improvement in service at the LTO, I thought, well, that’s it. They went from very bad to big improvement. Then I was given a copy of a proposal from Sen. JV Ejercito where he is pushing the LTO to study the implementation of online registration for vehicles.
Online registration? That would be awesome! If we could actually do away with all the things I mentioned above, or find a way to do it better online, I think the public would be very happy!
When you say Online registration, I imagine everything is done online. I don’t want a partial online process where you still need to physically visit the LTO to finish everything. Kung pupunta pa rin ako at pipila pa din ako, bakit pa ako nag online-online, right?
How I imagine the process to be, ideally:
- Go to the LTO website and click on the process that you want to do. I expect this to be available 24/7!
- Fill up a short online form.
- Choose your TPL from a list of accredited providers.
- Choose if you want to pick up your stickers and papers or if you want it delivered via courier (like passport renewal, just pay extra for courier service).
- Pay: Option of paying online via credit card, debit card, GCash, Beep, PayMaya, PayPal, etc…
- LTO sends confirmation email and soft copy of papers.
- Done. Ideally, this should be done in less than 10 minutes! Your car is renewed. You either go pick up your papers after x days at the LTO branch you specify, or just wait for it to be delivered to you.
For the renewal process, since all your information is already saved from the previous transaction, there should just be something that says “Do you want to renew your blah blah?” and a big YES button. And then the form shows up, ALL FILLED OUT WITH THE PREVIOUS INFORMATION, so you don’t need to type it all again. You can edit it if there are changes. Then just click on another YES button, make the payment, and so on, and that’s it.
One advantage of online registration is that it can automatically send reminder emails so people are reminded that they need to renew.
Hopefully, with the online process, there’s no need to follow the LTO schedule anymore, too.
I hope this online car registration resolution from Senator JV really comes true! Here’s hoping the proposed online processing will also include driver’s license renewal.
How about you? Do you have any suggestions or recommendations to improve the LTO processes? Please leave a comment below! 🙂
Here’s a copy of the resolution, just in case you are interested to read it:
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