Grab stops collecting P2 travel charge
Transport network company (TNC) Grab suspended on Friday its collection of a P2-per-minute travel charge, but called on the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to reconsider the order as it pointed out that this would cause “irreparable damage” to the thousands of drivers on its platform.
In its motion for reconsideration filed with the LTFRB on Friday, Grab maintained that the order for the TNC to suspend the collection of P2-per-minute travel charge was “contrary to law, the revised rules of procedure of the LTFRB and jurisprudence.”
“[The order] would cause grave or irreparable damage not only to the respondent but more so to the operators and drivers of the accredited transportation network vehicles if the same is not rectified,” Grab said in its appeal.
In the LTFRB’s initial hearing this week on Grab’s alleged illegal fare structure, the TNC pointed out that the former Department of Transportation and Communications’ Order No. 2015-011 allowed them to set the fares to be collected but “subject to oversight from the LTFRB in cases of abnormal disruptions of the market.”
LTFRB chair Martin Delgra III argued that if this was Grab’s basis, why then did it file a petition for a fare increase with the LTFRB in January?
Grab officials explained that the fare hike petition was in compliance with the Department of Transportation’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG) issued in June last year.
Under the OFG, fares to be collected by transport network vehicle services (TNVS) are prearranged and “authorized by the LTFRB.”
Delgra stressed that since the LTFRB’s December 2016 order, which set the approved fare rates for TNCs, remained in effect, “there should have been no changes in the fare mechanisms.”
Grab fares down
Following the temporary suspension of the travel charge, Grab fares went down significantly.
For example, a 6.5-kilometer trip from Makati to Manila cost P219 on Friday, or P74 cheaper than Monday’s rate.
On Wednesday next week, the LTFRB is set to meet with groups of app-based drivers to hear their concerns and to also get their side on the growing number of passenger complaints against them.
As this developed, Uber Philippines could still ask to continue its services in compliance to an ongoing competition review, but Grab would no longer shoulder the costs of another extension, officials said.
“If they [Uber] want to, they certainly can. They can appeal but whether LTFRB would agree to the appeal is another question,” said lawyer Anthony Abad, one of the proponents behind the Philippine Competition Act.
New TNC accredited
Three days after Uber’s exit from the country’s ride-hailing industry, the LTFRB accredited on Wednesday a Filipino-owned TNC.
With the LTFRB’s accreditation of Hype, app-based drivers as well as commuters now have an alternative to Grab, eliminating its “virtual monopoly” of the industry which was feared by some quarters following its acquisition last month of its former rival’s Southeast Asian operations.
Delgra said it would now be up to Hype and other TNCs they would later accredit how they would market themselves so that drivers and commuters may migrate to their platforms.
To date, four more TNCs are waiting to be accredited by the LTFRB. These are Hirna, Go Lag, Micab and Owto.—WITH A REPORT BY ROY STEPHEN C. CANIVEL
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