LTFRB unaware of Grab PH’s P2 per minute travel charge

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has ordered ride-sharing company Grab to explain its fare structure as the agency conducted a hearing on Tuesday, April 17, on the supposedly unauthorized P2 per minute additional charge.

Grab PH country manager Brian Cu (right) explaining the company’s fare structure to LTFRB officials during a hearing on Tuesday. (Screen grab from Facebook Live of Jacque Manabat)

This as Grab disclosed that it has imposed the travel duration rate since June 2017 despite not being stipulated in an order released last December 27, 2016 by the LTFRB, which sets the fare structure of transportation network companies (TNCs).

“The Board directs Grab to disclose and submit when they have actually imposed the P2 per minute travel charge and how many trips on a monthly basis Grab has booked from the time they started imposing the charge,” LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III said.

The December 2016 order stipulates that Grab should impose a flagdown rate of P40 with an additional rate of P10 to P14 per kilometer excluding per minute travel charges.

“The Board has exercised not only its oversight but also adjudicatory powers when it issued an order last December 27, 2016. The order remains in effect,” Delgra said. “There was no mention of travel time rate by Grab when the LTFRB came out with an order last December 2016 on the fare structure of TNCs.”

Grab legal counsel John Paul Nabua said that its P2 per minute travel charge was in accordance with the order of the then Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in 2015, which allows ride-sharing companies to set their own fares with the oversight of the LTFRB.

“Department Order 2015-11 allows TNCs to determine their rates. Grab started charging the travel duration rate as early as June 2017,” Nabua said.

He admitted, however, that there was no mention of per minute rate in the December 2016 order of the LTFRB.

Grab has presented its fare structure during a technical working group (TWG) meeting with the LTFRB in July last year.

The hearing was conducted after Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) partylist representative Jericho Nograles accused Grab of illegally charging P2 per minute for their rides, on top of its flagdown rate of P40 and charging P10-14 per kilometer.

The lawmaker said the ride-sharing firm has “unilaterally” reprogrammed their algorithm to impose the additional charges.

He said that the LTFRB should be the one that should determine the rates that will be set by the TNCs.

“Presentation by Powerpoint does not constitute a fare petition. The presentation of fare structure is not a cause for approval. Would it mean that any instance, a PowerPoint presentation would make it legal already? That’s not what due process is,” Nograles said.

“What we are fighting for here is consumer rights and due process. It turned out that the implementation of the P2 per minute in June 2017 did not undergo due process and only underwent Powerpoint presentation,” he added.

Nograles said Grab should refund around P1.8 billion of alleged illegal charges to its customers.

Partner drivers and operators of Grab that were present in the hearing expressed their concern that the refund would result in the loss of their livelihood.

The next hearing of the LTFRB on the issue is scheduled on May 29. — Aerol John Pateña, with reports from Madonna Actub (PNA)

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