Friday, March 9, 2012

News Update Taxi Operators Seek P10 Hike In Flag Down Rates Nationwide

MANILA, Philippines - Taxi operators are asking government permission to increase the cab flag down rates by P10 nationwide.
The Philippine National Taxi Operators Association, Metro Cebu Taxi Operators Association Inc., Association of Taxi Operators of Metro Manila Inc., Association of Taxi Operators of Panay Inc., and private operators JME Transport Inc., R&E Transport Inc., and EPE Transport Inc. filed a joint petition for a nationwide increase for taxi fares the other day.
In a seven-page petition they filed before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the petitioners cited the rising cost of fuel, especially gasoline and liquefied petroleum gas, and operational expenses, such as lubricants and automotive spare parts, in justifying their request.
Current taxi fares nationwide, except in Baguio City, are pegged at P40 for the flag down rate covering the first 500 meters, P3.50 for the succeeding 300 meters and P3.50 for every two-minute waiting time. Flag down rate for cabs operating in Baguio City is still pegged at P30 because they do not use air-conditioned units.
But regardless of location, the petitioners are now asking the LTFRB to allow them to charge passengers a P50 flag down rate, P4.50 for the succeeding 300 meters and P4.50 for every two-minute waiting time.
Taxi operators said LPG prices have increased by 48 percent since the last fare increase -- from P30 to P40 -- was granted by the LTFRB while unleaded gasoline increased by 20 percent.
"Despite these increases in cost of operations, boundaries for taxi have remained flat in order to afford drivers some breathing space. Nonetheless, drivers' take home pay has dropped by as much as P500 per workday. Unless fares can be adjusted, this drop will continue because fuel prices are projected to increase further," the petitioners said.
Taxi operators also said it is just fitting for government to grant their fare hike petition, considering that it has not been able to stop the operation of colorum taxis and the proliferation of Asian utility vehicles which serve as express services that compete with the taxi market share. Moreover, they said the government does not offer assistance to taxi operators similar to the "Pantawid Pasada" program for jeepney operators.
Like jeepney operators, who have asked the LTFRB to grant their prayer of a provisional P0.50 fare increase while their P2 fare hike petition is being deliberated, taxi operators are also asking the LTFRB to allow them to provisionally increase fares by P10 while their petition is pending for resolution.
"A P10 increase in the flag down rate would mitigate the impact (of rising cost of fuel) and help drivers. This provisional adjustment will add around P80 per day to drivers' take home pay, which is not even enough to offset foregone income because of the oil price hike," the petitioners added.
For the LTFRB's part, Board Member Atty. Manuel Iway said they will soon set the schedule for the public hearing of the petition of fare increase for taxi.
"We will set it for hearing and review the merits of the petition. We will make the petitioners submit financial documents to prove the need for a fare increase," he added.
The last taxi fare increase, from P30 to P40, was implemented nationwide, except in Baguio City, in January 2011.
Meanwhile, the LTFRB is expected to decide today if the government will grant the request of operators and drivers to provisionally hike jeepney fares by P0.50 due to the incessant oil price hikes.
The three-man LTFRB deliberated the transport sector's prayer for a nationwide P0.50 provisional fare hike for jeepneys yesterday afternoon but Board Member Atty. Manuel Iway said they will release the Board's formal decision today.
"The LTFRB will deliberate on the request for provisional fare increase this afternoon but we will not yet issue the decision today," he said after a public hearing with the petitioners yesterday morning.