LTFRB probes Grab’s ‘illegal’ charges

Jess Diaz, Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) yesterday opened an investigation into Grab’s P2 fee per minute of travel time and other charges it is imposing on riders.

The board conducted a hearing on the complaint of Rep. Jericho Nograles of party-list group Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta, who exposed what he described as Grab’s “illegal” fee.

He said the LTFRB set the next hearing for May 29.

Nograles faced off with angry Grab drivers who accused him of initiating moves to that will leave them jobless.

One of them was Vince Fernando, who was ordered kicked out of the hearing by LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III after he heckled Nograles.

“Some 60,000 drivers will lose their jobs!” Fernando shouted at Nograles as security guards escorted him out of the room.

Fernando insisted there is no truth to Nograles’ allegations that they are overcharging their fares.

“Grab has fixed surcharges unlike taxis where the rates always increase,” he said.

Grab drivers likewise booed Nograles while he was being interviewed by reporters at the end of the hearing.

In response, Nograles insisted the hecklers should be angry with Grab and not at him.

Explanation needed

Delgra ordered Grab to submit documents disclosing when they actually started imposing the P2 per minute travel fare.

He also directed Grab to explain why there is still a fare for bookings with similar pick-up and drop-off points.

Delgra cited a booking where Grab charged P80 for a route where the origin and destination is at the lobby of a hospital.

During the hearing, Grab representatives admitted they implemented the per-minute travel rate in June 2017, based on the Department of Transportation Order 2015-2011 allowing transport network companies to set their own fares.

A visibly surprised Delgra retorted, “You already implemented this without informing the board?”

Grab representatives said they informed the LTFRB about the fare structure during a technical working group meeting in July 2017, adding it is a measure to normalize the income of their partner drivers.

Delgra said the order they issued on Dec. 27, 2016 lowering Grab’s per kilometer rates from P12 to P16 to P10 to P14 never mentioned the P2 per minute travel rate.

Delgra also questioned why the Grab platform is seeking fares for bookings with similar pick-up and drop-off points.

Grab country head Brian Cu with their legal counsels John Paul Nabua and Miguel Aguilla said the platform’s algorithm assumed that a trip was made despite similar pick-up and end points.

His explanation did not satisfy Delgra, who questioned why Grab is still seeking a fare hike when the system determines the fares on its own.

“You are explaining to the board there is an assumption which people may not understand. So might as well take out that assumption,” Delgra said.

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