DOTr mulls more control over Grab, TNCs’ fares

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has started reviewing a three-year-old policy governing transport network companies, with the intent of putting more controls on how TNCs can set their own fare schemes.

In an interview, Transport Undersecretary Tim Orbos said the DOTr may have to rescind or at least amend Department Order (DO) No. 2015-011, which allowed TNCs like Grab to create their own fare matrices.

“We have to remember that when this DO was issued in 2015, TNCs did not have the kind of impact that they have now; hence, the need for more regulatory control,” Orbos told the Inquirer.

Started under Abaya

Implemented in 2015 by then Transport Secretary Joseph Abaya, the DO has been cited by Grab as legal basis for imposing rates such as a P2-per-minute travel charge and the P80 to P125 minimum base rates.

Officials of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) recently questioned these rates, saying they were imposed without the board’s knowledge. The board ordered the travel charge suspended in April.

In an earlier statement, LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra said such authority granted to TNCs under the DOTr order was in conflict with the board’s mandate to regulate fares.

Arbitrary interpretation

Orbos said that because of an “arbitrary” interpretation of the DO on the part of Grab, there is now a need to revisit and clarify the order vis-a-vis the LTFRB’s oversight functions.

Citing a possible amendment, Orbos said: “For example, TNCs would be mandated to file a petition before the LTFRB before they could impose fare hikes.

“(We are] also looking at the possibility of regulating surge caps,” he said, referring to the price surges charged by Grab during peak hours.

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