Politics

Regulator targets decision on Grab PHL’s ‘surge pricing’ in Feb.

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REUTERS

THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced on Thursday that it targets to issue a decision on Grab Philippines’ “surge pricing” mechanism by February.

“The LTFRB has given Grab Philippines five days to submit data on the number of times they charged a minimum base fare of P85 for short trips,” the agency said in a statement.

The agency conducted the last hearing on the matter on Thursday.

“There will be no more hearing on this issue. We have already asked them to submit their position paper and that’s when we will come up with a decision,” LTFRB Chairman Teofilo E. Guadiz III  said during the hearing on the “surge price” issue on fares.

He said the decision may be issued by the first week of February.

“There is a need to set parameters and the setting of ‘surge’ prices should not be dependent on one company alone or on the supply and demand,” according to the agency.

The LTFRB previously approved the fare hike for several modes of public transport including transport network vehicle services or TNVS.

“The minimum fare for… Sedan-type TNVS will be P45, while AUV/SUV-type TNVS will be at P55. For hatchback-type TNVS, flagdown rate will be P35. There will be no increase in the succeeding kilometers,” the LTFRB said in a statement in September last year.

LTFRB’s Mr. Guadiz said: “What we intend to do now is to put up parameters, that only one entity can set the pricing. While it is true that the party has the mechanism, it is still the government that exercises regulatory functions and defines when they can impose an increase.”

“What we would like to establish is what time can they impose an increase and in what areas they can make the increase,” he added.

Sought for comment, Grab Philippines said: “We respect the LTFRB’s view on Grab’s surge pricing mechanism.”

“We believe that further regulating surge pricing beyond caps/existing regulation must be approached very carefully to protect and support all transport stakeholders, including the riding public. We are one with the LTFRB in providing our commuters with a safe, reliable, and cost-effective means of transportation, and we will review this matter directly with our regulators,” it added.

In a Jan. 6 statement, Grab Philippines said that it had experienced a shortage of driver-partners in its platform due to a “mobility standstill.”

The LTFRB has said that it would open 4,433 slots for the application of TNVS. — Arjay L. Balinbin