Senate panel to probe 'unreasonable' surge pricing of Grab, Uber
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate is set to probe the “unreasonable” surge pricing of transport network companies (TNCs) such as Grab and Uber, following complaints of passengers.
Senator Grace Poe, chair of the public services committee, filed Senate Resolution 262 seeking a congressional inquiry into the unfair practice and the need to create standards to limit it.
During the holiday season, passengers complained of the unfair price increases, with surge amounts ranging from P2,000 to P28,000.
Poe denounced this, saying it is just similar to the “kontrata (contract)” system rampant among regular taxi cabs, which passengers try to avoid by using TNCs.
“The surge pricing experienced by consumers is no different from 'kontrata,' where cab drivers would demand a fixed and excessively high fare during rush hours and the holiday season,” the senator said in her resolution.
She also cited cases in other countries like Australia and the United States, where Uber had been criticized for increasing its fares during disasters and emergencies such as the Sydney hostage crisis and Hurricane Sandy.
“Here and in abroad, commuters have complained that sometimes, the ride they requested would suddenly get cancelled, and when they request for a new ride, surge pricing appears,” she added.
Congress should craft guidelines
While the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has ordered Uber and Grab to limit the fare increases, the senator said Congress should craft guidelines to curb surge pricing. (READ: LTFRB warns Uber, Grab over unreasonable price surge)
In pushing this, Poe said lawmakers abroad have already tried to address the problem by proposing “to ban surge pricing or put a cap on it.”
In the House of Representatives, a bill has been filed banning the "exorbitant" and "undue" rate surges.
A counterpart bill has yet to be filed in the Senate. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed a measure in August 2016, but it focused only on the regulation of TNCs, without specific provisions prohibiting unfare price surging.
Poe also asked Congress to look into how TNCs have been used by some businessmen to skirt franchising laws and operate a fleet of private vehicles, “resulting in further traffic congestion.”
“TNCs should not lose sight that their services are mainly for the convenience of the riding public, which is why they were awarded a certificate of public convenience.”
The transportation department's Department Order No. 2015-11 allows TNCs "to determine their fares in line with efforts to encourage innovation in public transportation in order to increase mobility on major thoroughfares, boost travel time, improve the quality, sustainability and reliability of public transport services, and respond to the needs of the modern commuter." – Rappler.com