Declined, cancelled on by drivers, lawmaker calls on LTFRB to check Grab

MANILA, Philippines – After being declined and cancelled on several times by drivers using the platform Grab, party-list Representative Jericho Nograles called on the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to check these violations.

Nograles, who represents Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) in the House of Representatives, said Friday, August 18, he tried to use Grab to get to the airport.

“To his disappointment, he was refused three times and at least two Grab drivers cancelled on him before one finally decided to take him,” according to a press release from his office.

A regular Uber user, Nograles said he eventually cancelled the Grab ride and took a taxi instead. He was still charged by Grab P318 for the ride he did not take.

“This to me is a clear case of passenger refusal, which is considered a violation by the LTFRB. They've been talking tough about imposing severe punishments against taxi drivers who refuse passengers, but what about those who do the same through our ride-hailing applications? Mas high-tech lang sa Grab, pero di ba pareho lang na passenger refusal 'yan (Grab is just more high-tech, but isn't that also passenger refusal)?” said the lawmaker in the statement.

Ride-sharing or ride-hailing apps, such as Grab and Uber, have been in the spotlight recently after the LTFRB cracked down on these companies, particularly because they allowed unregistered drivers to use their platforms.

The LTFRB recently suspended Uber for a month because the company did not comply with the regulatory agency’s order to stop accrediting and accepting new drivers.

Users of the apps have been complaining about the surge in Grab ride prices following the suspension of Uber.

Although the two platforms have the same end-goal – connecting a driver to a potential rider – their mechanisms differ. On Uber, for instance, drivers only know the drop-off point after they agree to pick up the passenger. Meanwhile, Grab drivers are informed of a passenger’s destination even before they agree to the trip.

Nograles criticized Grab for “overcharging,” which he said “has gone out of control after LTFRB decided to suspend Uber.”

“There are times when Grab would charge as much as P800 just for a 20-kilometer ride because of the surge. This is already hold-up. This is no different from a taxi driver who would demand an extra on top of their meter fare. I don't know if LTFRB even knows this is considered as overcharging,” he said.

He called for an “auto-cap” for fare surges.

The LTFRB in December 2016 ordered both Grab and Uber to lessen the multipliers for their surge price to twice the fare, excluding the base fare. This was partly in response to the costly surge prices during the holiday season.

Nograles said he would bring up the incidences of high surge prices and passenger refusal when the House committee on transport begins tackling bills that would provide legal framework for Grab and Uber to operate in the country.

Grab earlier promised to limit to its surge pricing following Uber’s suspension. – Rappler.com