LTFRB cuts taxi flag-down rate nationwide by P10
MANILA, Philippines—For the first time ever, taxi fares are being reduced in the Philippines.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Friday ordered the provisional reduction by P10 of taxi flag-down rates nationwide, including the yellow-colored airport taxis.
Effective March 9, regular taxi flag-down rates will drop to P30 from P40. Airport taxi flag-down rates will go down from P70 to P60.
However, the P3.50 rate for every succeeding 300 meters will remain unchanged.
The taxi fare reduction will be “automatic by Monday,” said LTFRB Chair Winston Ginez.
The LTFRB board said it was reducing the taxi fares after weighing “the rights of public land transport operators vis-à-vis the interest of the public in general, which is of paramount importance.”
The rate reduction was in relation to a petition filed by Negros Oriental Rep. Manuel Iway last December, proposing the flag-down rate reduction, as well as a P1 reduction in the rate for every succeeding 300 meters.
Iway, who is a former LTFRB director for Central Visayas, on Friday said he was not completely happy with the LTFRB order, insisting that the rate for the succeeding 300 meters should have been reduced to P2.50 as he had proposed in his petition.
“It’s too little, too late,” he said, noting that the reduction should have been implemented last month.
The last time taxi flag-down rates were adjusted was in 2010, when the rate was raised from P30 to P40, said Ginez.
“[The taxi fare reduction] is a most anticipated development for our people who have been reeling from the economically debilitating almost weekly oil price increases more than a year ago,” the LTFRB said in the order it issued Friday.
“This will redound to public need and convenience which is of paramount consideration,” it said.
But since the reduction is provisional or temporary, taxi meters will no longer be recalibrated to reflect the new flag-down rate, Ginez said.
He said taxi drivers will be required to post a notice inside their cabs informing passengers that the total reflected fare in the meter should be deducted by P10.
Taxi groups complain
A spokesperson for the Association of Taxi Operators in Metro Manila (Atom) and other taxi groups, including some members of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association, said they plan to appeal the fare reduction order.
“We weren’t informed about [the reduction], so we were surprised by it,” said Atom spokesperson Pablo Sarmiento. “We’re talking to our members, if we should file an appeal,” he added, though he could not give a specific date for the filing.
Sarmiento said the fare reduction was “not fair,” citing “the continuous fluctuation of gasoline prices, going higher from time to time, aside from the high prices of car spare parts.”
“The burden goes to drivers, going up to operators. And consumers will also be affected,” he said.
Sarmiento estimated that with the fare reduction, taxi drivers would be losing about P300 a day.
Taxi operators dismayed
Richard Cabucos, president of the Metro Cebu Taxi Operators Association, also criticized the LTFRB decision, saying the agency was giving in to public pressure and didn’t take into consideration the plight of the drivers.
Ryan Benjamin Yu, chair of the Cebu Integrated Transport Services Cooperative, was also dismayed by the rollback, saying that his group was considering legal action, including filing a motion for reconsideration with the LTFRB or seeking a court injunction to stop the rollback.
Ginez disputed the taxi groups’ contention that no consultations were conducted.
“There was a hearing and regional consultations about this. [Taxi groups] were able to submit their opposition. The hearing schedule was published in all broadsheets. If they (the taxi operators) didn’t attend, we are not to blame,” he said.
The LTFRB chair warned that taxi drivers and operators who refuse to comply with the order will be penalized with a fine of at least P5,000 for the first offense, in accordance with the Joint Administrative Order 2014-01.
Sarmiento conceded that the grumbling taxi drivers will most likely comply on Monday.
Where to complain
Passengers who encounter drivers who refuse to comply with the decreased rate may complain to the LTFRB at landline number 4262515, mobile number 09214487777, or on Twitter via the LTFRB_chairman account.
“[Taxi drivers] now have IDs inside their cars. We will also [check their compliance] on Monday,” Ginez said.
But he said that “in case oil prices increase to a level that prejudices the operators, we will not hesitate to study and review this [reduction] order.”
As with commuter jeepney fare reduction over the past months, the taxi fare reduction was also prompted by the lowering of oil prices in the world market since late last year, though they started climbing up again in February.
But “there has been a big decrease in gasoline and diesel prices, even [when you factor in] the increases,” Ginez said. He noted further that taxis mostly use diesel and gas.
Quoting Department of Energy figures, Ginez said that over the past year, there have been 25 gasoline price rollbacks as compared to 18 price increases, resulting in a net decrease of P13 per liter. Likewise, there have been 31 diesel price decreases as compared to 16 increases, resulting in a net decrease of P15 per liter, he said.
E. Visayas fare rollback
The LTFRB also announced on Friday that it will reduce the public transportation fares in the Eastern Visayas.
Ginez said that fares for buses and minibuses will now only cost P8 for the first 5 kilometers, instead of P8.50, with every succeeding kilometer costing P1.
The fare for public utility jeepneys in the Eastern Visayas will now be P7 for the first 5 kilometers, and 90 centavos for every succeeding kilometer, Ginez said.
UV express van fares in the region have been reduced to P1.20 per kilometer, from P1.28. With Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas
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