Top Story



By Chrisee Jalyssa V. Dela Paz
Reporter


Taxi fare cut




Posted on March 07, 2015


COMMUTERS across the country should be paying less for taxi fare starting Monday after the Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Friday approved a provisional reduction of flag-down rate to P30 from P40 currently, noting the impact of low world oil prices, according to an official statement on Friday.

The regulator advised commuters to be mindful of the fare reduction, saying operators will not be required to recalibrate meters due to cost issues.

LTFRB Chairman Winston M. Ginez said in a telephone interview that flag-down fare of airport taxi service will likewise be reduced to “P60 from current P70 on Monday.”

There is, however, no provisional reduction in fare for every succeeding 300 meters which remains P3.50, LTFRB said.

The decision stems from a petition filed by Negros Oriental Rep. Manuel M. Iway (1st District) -- a former LTFRB Board member -- on Dec. 17 last year for flag-down fare to be cut by P10 and rate for every succeeding 300 meters to be reduced to P2.50. A public hearing on the petition was held on Jan. 9.

COMMUTERS BEWARE

Asked if the taxi cab operators will be required to recalibrate meters, LTFRB Board Member Antonio Ariel Inton, Jr. replied in a phone interview: “No, because this will be an additional expense for them; but we are encouraging them to recalibrate.”

“What we’re afraid about is that, as not all operators are willing to recalibrate their meters, drivers might not remind their passengers about the P10 reduction, because what will still appear on their meter is the P40 flag-down rate,” Mr. Inton said.

“If this happens, passengers should reduce P10 from their total fare. Passengers should be mindful of the reduced flag-down rate when riding taxis starting Monday.”

Mr. Inton said taxi drivers and operators who would insist on the old flag-down rate face penalties and sanctions. Those found violating the order will be penalized under the Joint Administrative Order No. 2014-01 or the Revised Schedule of Fines and Penalties for Violations of Laws, Rules and Regulations governing Land Transportation, LTFRB said in the statement. The order, posted on the Transportation department’s Web site, imposes a graduated schedule of penalties and sanctions:

• a fine of P5,000 for each incident for the first offense; 2nd offense;

• a P10,000 fine and impounding of unit for 30 days for the second offense; as well as

• a P15,000 fine and cancellation of Certificate of Public Convenience, or license to transport passengers.

BASIS

Mr. Ginez said in the statement that the board’s decision was backed by “reports and economic analysis of various government agencies.” The board particularly noted a Jan. 23 Energy department assessment that “highlighted declines in international oil prices last year” that prompted petroleum industry firms in the Philippines to implement “substantial decreases in local oil prices.”

World oil prices were halved between June last year and January, and began to show erratic recovery just last month.

For gasoline locally, 18 increases and 25 rollbacks resulted in a net decrease of more than P13 per liter, LTFRB said in its statement.

Similarly, the 16 increases and 31 decreases in diesel pump prices resulted in net decrease of about P15 per liter.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which LTFRB noted most taxis now use, bared a P15.94-per-liter net reduction.

“The declines continued in 2015, with three rollbacks resulting in net decreases of P3.90 per liter for gasoline, P3.75 per liter for diesel, and P3.07 for LPG, respectively,” LTFRB said in its statement, adding that the Trade department “favorably endorsed the petition for fare reduction…”

‘UNHAPPY’

Sought for comment, Philippine National Taxi Operators Association President Jesus Manuel Bong C. Suntay said in an e-mail that his group is “unhappy” about the LTFRB decision.

“For our taxi drivers, the reduction of P10 will translate to P350 a day in earnings. We will file a motion for reconsideration because the fuel price is not the only indication on whether the taxi fare will go up or not; we also have to take into consideration the inflation rate, cost of living, cost of spare parts and other taxi conditions,” Mr. Suntay said.

He said his group is prepared to “try to get an injunction order from the Supreme Court” if the regulator rules against its plea.

Speaking on behalf of the commuters group, National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection President Elvira Y. Medina said in a separate phone interview: “This is a welcome development but it should have been implemented months ago when gas prices went down.”

“LTFRB should have acted faster. Hopefully, taxi cab operators will follow this reduction strictly.”

The LTFRB last December cut public utility jeepney fare in Metro Manila to P7.50 from P8.50 for the first four kilometers, citing a series of diesel price rollback. This was followed by a 50 centavos rollback in Central Visayas and Northern Mindanao.

“In the event that prices of oil increase to a level that transport operators are prejudiced, the Board… will not likewise hesitate to review and study the order,” LTFRB’s statement quoted Mr. Ginez as saying.