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LTFRB orders Grab PH to explain hiked minimum fare

LTFRB orders Grab PH to explain hiked minimum fare

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By Mariejo S. Ramos

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has asked Grab Philippines to explain why it was reportedly charging a minimum fare of P85 during nonpeak hours or for short-distance trips, a rate yet to be authorized by the agency.

In a hearing on Tuesday, the LTFRB gave Grab two days to provide documents explaining the computation for its “surge fees” and “short trip” rides.

Under the latest fare matrix approved by the LTFRB in September last year, the minimum fare for taxis and Sedan-type transport network vehicle service (TNVS) is P45; P55 for AUV/SUV-type TNVS; and P35 for hatchback-type TNVS.

The board earlier noted that Grab was also charging passengers a P40 “additional stop base fare.”

The hearing on Tuesday was closed to the media and there was no immediate comment from the Grab officials in attendance.

In a press briefing, LTFRB Chair Teofilo Guadiz III said the next hearing on Tuesday would tackle whether Grab could make such adjustments without the agency’s approval.

“That will form part of the issues that will be discussed in the next hearing, if we will allow them [to use that rate for] minimum base fare or modify it, or if we will allow them to impose stop base fare,” said Guadiz.

Guadiz said the LTFRB started receiving reports about Grab’s fare increase in December.

Lack of drivers

In 2018, the LTFRB raised a similar issue with Grab, when the company did not inform the agency that it would charge passengers a minimum fare of P80 for sedans and 6-seater vehicles and P125 for premium cars.

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

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“Pandemic-induced challenges led to some driver-partners losing their loaned cars to repossession or driver-partners moving on to other economic opportunities elsewhere,” Grab said.

To address this, the ride-hailing company has opened 4,433 new slots for Grab drivers this month.

In a statement on Tuesday, Grab thanked the LTFRB for the “opportunity to clarify key questions” regarding its pricing mechanisms.

“The company looks forward to further expounding on this matter in the next session,” Grab said.

It added: “Despite the shortage of drivers, Grab is making every possible effort to support commuters and existing driver-partners — while still remaining compliant with the fare matrix of the LTFRB.”