LTFRB vows to decide on surge fee, higher base fare of Grab before January ends

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has committed to come up with the decision on the issue of surge fees and other fees being imposed by Grab Philippines to its customers before the end of this month.

Following the hearing it conducted on Tuesday, Jan. 10, the LTFRB chairman Teofilo Guadiz III said they ordered Grab Philippines to submit documents that would explain how it came up with the computation on the controversial surge fees and short trip ride fare schemes.

The order came after another hearing was held amid questions on whether or not the Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) has the power to impose charges higher than what the LTFRB has set.

The LTFRB scheduled hearings last month amid controversies surrounding the legality of the surge fees and other fare schemes being imposed on commuters using the Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS).

Guadiz said that based on their information, Grab Philippines has been charging P85 minimum base fare and additional P40 stop base fare on some of its riders.

The LTFRB, on the other hand, set the minimum base fare for all TNVS at P45, almost double of what the Grab Philippines is reportedly charging on its riders.

Guadiz explained that there are three main issues that will be ruled out by the LTFRB.

First is on the issue of minimum base fare, particularly on the aspect of setting aside the minimum base fare set by the LTFRB for TNVS.

"Does Grab have the power to increase the fare without the permission of the LTFRB, and what is the basis?," said Guadiz.

Second, according to Guadiz, is on the issue of stop base fare: "We are not saying that this (stop base fare) is illegal, what we are saying is what is the basis."

And third, said Guadiz, is on the issue of surge fees.

"One of the issues here is when to impose surge fees. We need to address this," said Guadiz.

He said this is the reason why the LTFRB asked the Grab Philippines to submit all the necessary documents to set the record straight.

Currently, the LTFRB admitted that there is no order yet from the agency for Grab to stop charging its riders of P85 base fare and stop base fare.

But he said that two to three more hearings will be conducted before the LTFRB would come out with the resolution in connection with the three issues before the end of this month.

"The decision will at least be released by the end of January, that is one thing that I can assure," said Guadiz.

The official also addressed criticisms that the LTFRB is too late to address the concerns of the commuters as it is still conducting hearings on issues that already happened last month.

"The issues here are never-ending, they come and go all of the time. It is not only during Christmas season or during long vacations that we have these issues on surge fees and minimum bare fare and top base fare. These are never-ending and continuing issues that will hound the riding public and which we need to address immediately," said Guadiz.