LTFRB to probe ride-hailing apps for higher holiday fares
MANILA, Philippines — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Tuesday called for a meeting with ride-hailing services operating in Metro Manila amid reports of unreasonable price surges since the start of the holiday season.
In a statement, LTFRB chair Martin Delgra promised to look into allegations of price-gouging this week as he reminded transport network companies (TNCs) to adhere to the approved fare matrix: P40 as base fare, P10-15 per kilometer, P2 per minute travel charge and a surge cap of 2x depending on the flow of traffic.
Although Delgra did not name the specific TNCs, commuters have been complaining lately about the high surge rates charged by Grab, which has a virtually monopoly on the ride-hailing industry in the country.
Reached for comment, Grab said it had not yet received the official invite from the LTFRB although it promised to take part in the discussion.
In a Twitter thread, journalist Janvic Mateo posted some of the receipts for his Grab rides during the holiday season and noted that the surcharges for some trips took up nearly half of his total fare.
In one trip that cost P777, for example, the surge charge was at P328.00, or 42 percent of the fare.In just two weeks, Mateo paid over P2,000 in surge charges, which were sometimes almost as expensive as the actual fare.
“I wish I don’t have to travel as often as I do. [I] wish we have a better public transport system,” he said.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian also asked the LTFRB to take another look at the fare matrix of Grab to make sure it was following the rules of surge pricing.Grab had attributed the higher rates to the increased demand for vehicles and the limited number of available drivers. “The high fare is killing the festive mood of many Filipino commuters. We don’t want to let Grab play the Grinch who stole Christmas from Juan de la Cruz because of high fare,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
He noted that based on the fare matrix approved in August, transportation network vehicle services (TNVS) units should charge a flag down rate of up to P40 for sedans, up to P50 for premium Asian utility vehicles/sport utility vehicles (AUV/SUV) and up to P30 for hatchbacks/subcompact vehicles.
This was on top of a P15 additional charge per kilometer for sedans, P18 for SUVs and P13 for hatchbacks—aside from the P2 charge per minute of travel.
TNCs are also allowed to double their per kilometer and per minute charges through surge pricing.
But Gatchalian said Grab should also explain why it was imposing surge pricing even in the wee hours of the morning when there were fewer bookings and less traffic on the road.
There should be more competitors for prices to go down, he added although he noted that while there were other TNVS companies, these were small players who could not go head-to-head with the current industry leader.
“Without competition in the hail-riding industry, our poor commuters will always be at the mercy of high fares,” Gatchalian said.
“This is why we are supporting the entry of other players in this industry, such as the TNVS GoJek, so that commuters would have choices and would not have to endure the high rates of Grab,” he added —With a report from Leila B. Salaverria INQ
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