TRAIN prods taxi operators, GRAB to seek rate hikes

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A Grab taxi at a passenger queue at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. (Reuters file)

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 9:16 a.m.) Taxi operators are seeking a dialogue with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board on a proposal to hike the flag down rate to P50 in order to cushion the impact of higher excise taxes on oil that will be implemented under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law.

Ridesharing firm Grab is also proposing a six to 10-percent or PHP10-13 increase on fares.

The company is set to file a petition for the increase before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board within the week, Grab Philippines country head Brian Cu said.

“We hope to have a dialogue with the LTFRB as soon as possible in order to discuss our proposal and relay our concerns on the TRAIN law,” Philippine National Taxi Operators Association president Bong Suntay said in an interview with PNA Wednesday.

The group is asking for an additional P10 to the current P40 flag down, P13.50 for every kilometer traveled and P2.50 waiting time.

Taxi drivers and operators need to recoup the higher operating costs brought about by the recent series of oil price increases, the group said.

“The current flag down rate of P40 is being imposed since 2010. The rate needs to be adjusted because of the likely impact of the higher fuel excise tax to drivers and operators,” Suntay said.

Taxi drivers have reduced their trips because of inflationary concerns and competition from ride-sharing companies. 

Currently, there are around 42,000 franchised taxi units nationwide, according to PNTOA.

The LTFRB has said a petition for fare increase must be filed by taxi operators in order for the Board to deliberate on the matter and hear the side of commuters.

“The fare increase aims to cover the higher operating costs of our drivers due to the implementation of the TRAIN policy,” Cu explained at a press conference Wednesday.

A full-time Grab driver earns an average of P3,200 to P3,600 daily. Of this amount, P800 to P1,000 is spent on gas.

“Our biggest worry is the day-to-day operations with regards to the fuel that drivers need. If a fare adjustment is not made, this would (compromise) their income on a monthly basis,” Cu said.

Once the fare adjustments are granted by the LTFRB, Grab assures its riders that these will be implemented only when there are “significant changes” in oil prices.

The average fares of Grab passengers was pegged at between P150 and P170 as of December 2017.

Under the TRAIN law, an initial excise tax of P2.50 per liter shall be imposed on diesel this year, which will eventually increase to P6 by 2020. An excise tax of P7 will be imposed on gasoline in 2018, gradually increasing to P10 in 2020.

The Department of Energy has advised oil companies not to apply the new excise taxes on old stocks of petroleum products, as these are levied on importation and not at the point of sale to consumers