LTFRB: Uber surcharge similar to taxi overcharging schemes

Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 10 2017 05:57 PM

MANILA - The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Tuesday compared Uber's "surcharge" on trips going south of Metro Manila to overcharging schemes employed by some taxi drivers.

The LTFRB's statement came after the transport network company revealed that a trip's base fare of P40 plus its P5.70 per kilometer charge comes with a P2-per-minute surcharge.

"Take away the digital platform, ganoon na mangyayari. 'Yung pamasahe nila may flagdown rate, mayroon din pala silang patong kung malayo ang hinahatiran ng Uber. Pareho lang sa Terminal 3 na ma-traffic, malayo. Di naman namin pinapayagan 'yan," said LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra.

The regulatory board ordered Uber last month to stop charging extra for trips that pass through toll gates south of Metro Manila on top of the toll, surge and base fares.

This followed a month-long suspension meted Uber in August for defying an LTFRB order against registering new units. The penalty was lifted after two weeks, when the firm paid a P489-million fine. 

Uber's legal counsel Jomar Castillo explained that the surcharge was implemented to compensate drivers that have a hard time getting new passengers after dropping off riders in "low-demand areas." 

"[It's to make up for the]... waiting time for a driver to secure a trip [in] a low-demand area. If the driver dropped [off] in Antipolo, it will take 30 minutes... So coming out on these factors, there is surge in those areas to compensate the driver in the low demand [areas]," said Castillo.

Uber's surcharge is P80 for passengers exiting the Bicutan or Sucat gates via the Skyway, Magallanes or C-5 entry points, P100 for those exiting Alabang Filinvest or Susana Heights gates via the same entry points, and P60 for those going to east of Rizal.

Uber was asked to submit a supplemental paper in 10 days to support its justification for a surcharge, which it implemented in 2015. 

Its counsel was also questioned why the firm failed to inform the LTFRB on the additional fare rate despite a series of meetings they had with the regulatory board.

"Inamin ng Uber na in-impose nila on their own. Iba ang pag-determine [ng] places where the destinations may be located kaya iba-iba ang amounts [ng surcharge], P60 to P100. Ang mabigat lang on [the] part of the board ay hindi sinabi at hindi nagpapaalam," said Delgra.

Delgra said Uber is still prohibited from charging extra for trips to southern metro until the LTFRB comes out with a resolution. 

On Monday, LTFRB agents went undercover and apprehended 5 taxi drivers for overcharging passengers at the airport.

Proposed measures are pending at the Senate seeking to regulate and legitimize operations of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Grab, both based on mobile phone applications popular amid the country's poor public transport system.