By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

DRIVERS of ride-hailing services have urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to immediately act on their petition to increase base fares by P15 as pump prices continue to soar.

The LTFRB has yet to act on the petition filed by the transportation network vehicle service community for a P15 increase in their base fares in November, community spokesperson and co-founder Saturnino F. Mopas told BusinessWorld in a phone interview. 

The community is a coalition of drivers for ride-hailing apps and services with 25,000 members nationwide, Mr. Mopas said.

Rates vary depending on the vehicle type. The flag down rate is as much as P40 for car sedans and as much as P50 for premium Asian and sport utility vehicles. For hatchback or sub-compact cars, the flag down rate is as much as P30.

Mr. Mopas said there is a need for a fare hike to allow drivers to cope with the “spiraling increases” in the prices of fuel and basic goods.

“Even spare parts and the cost of car services are really increasing, so we decided to ask for a fare increase,” he said.

He said the LTFRB heard their petition last week, but negotiations continue. Grab Philippines, a transport network company, is directly negotiating with the LTFRB.

A transport network company “provides pre-arranged transportation services for compensation using an internet-based technology application or digital platform technology to connect passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles.”

Transportation network vehicle service companies are accredited vehicle owners who offer door-to-door services. 

Mr. Mopas said the LTFRB should decide expeditiously on the petition because fuel prices continue to rise, affecting their profitability.

Pump prices went up for an 11th straight week on Tuesday. Fuel retailers raised gasoline and diesel prices by P7.10 and P13.15 per liter, respectively.   

Mr. Mopas  said the P15 increase in the base fares should be enough to cover the higher fuel costs as long as drivers can take more rides.

The 25,000 active transportation network vehicle service drivers currently are only “around 40%” of the total before the pandemic, according to Mr. Mopas. Many drivers were affected by the strict lockdowns implemented during the pandemic.

Grab Philippines announced last week that it has allotted P25 million for its “Partner Assistance Fund” this year.

The LTFRB has yet to respond to a request for comment as of press time.

Several transport groups have also filed petitions to raise the minimum jeepney fare to P14-P15, from the current P9 in the National Capital Region.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua earlier said raising jeepney fares by P1.25 will already add 0.4 percentage point to inflation.