Transport regulators approve higher taxi fares

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 4) — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) approved on Wednesday an increase in taxi fares nationwide.

In its October 4 decision, the LTFRB said the approximately 30-percent rise in fuel prices from March 2016 to present was one of the reasons it granted the fare increase.

"What convinced the Board in resolving in favor of petitioners' prayer for fare increase is the fact that the last increase was granted way back in 2010 or seven years ago," the agency said.

"From the past decisions and orders of this Board relative to fare adjustment, the prices of fuel was the major concern," it added.

Different computation

In February 2017, the LTFRB provisionally allowed an increase in the flagdown rate — the cost of hailing a taxi and the initial travel distance — from ₱30 to ₱40 for the first 500 meters.

This was an exception for the Cordillera Administrative Region, which saw flagdown rates rise by five pesos to ₱35 for the first 400 meters.

The decision on Wednesday made the February 2017 flagdown hike permanent, as well as revised the taxi fare formula.

The new formula includes the flagdown rate, the total distance travelled and the total running time (computed whether the taxi is moving or stationary).

Thus, the flagdown rate remains at ₱40 (₱35 in CAR), while the distance rate is now ₱13.50 a kilometer and the running-time rate is ₱2 a minute.

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The old formula used to be the sum of the flagdown rate, the distance travelled beyond the flagdown and the waiting time (the time the taxi is stopped).

LTFRB Spokesperson Aileen Lizada told CNN Philippines on Wednesday that the new formula will only account for distance and time measured in whole numbers, meaning decimal points (like 1.9 kilometers or 25.3 minutes) will not equal an additional kilometer or additional minute of running time.

The higher fares take effect only when the agency retests and reseals all taxi meters that have been calibrated for the new fare structure, she added.

Need to shape up

The LTFRB added that the higher cost of living, competing forms of public transport, and worsening traffic likewise contributed to the decision to allow fare increases.

In line with the fare increase, taxi operators must now comply with the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program, which includes the installation of a GPS tracker, free Internet access, a CCTV camera and a dashboard camera in taxi units.

Related: Jeepney modernization program kicks off next month

"If upon testing of the meter, the unit is found to be 13 years old or the age of phaseout, then the new unit has to comply with the PUV Modernization Program," Lizada said. "But if the unit is less than 13 years old, it can continue to operate with the retested and resealed meter."

The LTFRB said in its decision that some taxi operators agreed to complying with the PUV Modernization Program.

"The need to adjust fare rates for taxi services is necessary for them to level up their service standards at par with new transportation modes," the agency said. "Accordingly, a just rate must be founded upon conditions which are fair and reasonable both to the public utility and the riding public itself.