THE flagdown rate for taxis nationwide will drop from P40 to P30 starting on Monday, March 8, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ordered.

While commuters welcomed the move, some taxi operators in Cebu are planning to go to court to stop the increase.

Pump prices of premium gasoline have dropped more than P10 per liter between September 2014 and March 4, 2015. The price per liter of diesel has slid by nearly P12 in the same six months.

LTFRB 7 Acting Director Reynaldo Elnar confirmed in an interview yesterday that he received a text message from LTFRB Chairman Winston Gines regarding the P10 rollback in the taxi flagdown rate.

But while that rate will be reduced from P40 to P30, the LTFRB retained the rate of P3.50 for every 300 meters.

Elnar has to clarify with Gines if yellow taxis or taxis operating exclusively to and from the Mactan Cebu International Airport are included in the rollback.

The decrease is provisional, and there is no need for taxi meters to be re-calibrated before the adjustment can be implemented. All passengers need to do is pay P10 less than what the meter reflects.

Elnar warned taxi drivers that they will be fined P2,500 to P3,000 if they refuse to heed the order.

Commuters and some cab drivers in Cebu welcomed the news.

Elvina Abarquez, a call center agent, said the P10 rollback will be a huge help to workers, especially those in the graveyard shifts of business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, who often take taxis because fewer jeepneys operate during the late night and pre-dawn hours.

How long?

Brixton Lagdameo, also a call center agent, also welcomed the LTFRB’s move, but questioned the timing.

“Dili ba kaha bawion ra sad na sa LTFRB? Gasige ra baya ug saka balik ang presyo sa gasoline (What if the LTFRB restores the P40 flagdown soon? Gasoline prices are starting to go back up,” Lagdameo.

Elmer Garaygay, a taxi driver, said he agrees with LTFRB’s move as this might attract more commuters to ride cabs.

But some groups of taxi operators are unhappy with the decision.

Richard Cabucos, president of the Metro Cebu Taxi Operators Association, said he expects a drop in their members’ income from P600 to P300 for 24 hours of work.

Cabucos added that the lower rate might also lead to a deterioration of taxi services.

“Nisunod gani mi sa mando sa LTFRB nga manindot na ang among mga units. Kamo makatagamtam namo ug nindot nga mga taxi nga makahatag ug nindot nga serbisyo sa atong riding public. Pero wala gyud ta tabangi sa gobyerno (We have heeded the LTFRB’s order to make our vehicles more presentable. Commuters can now enjoy better services. But the government hasn’t helped taxi operators),” Cabucos said.

After hearing the news, Ryan Benjamin Yu of the Cebu Integrated Transport Operators Cooperative said he didn’t expect that the LTFRB would issue such an order, especially that the prices of gasoline are increasing again.

Court action

Yu said that they are contemplating on going to court to ask for a temporary restraining order. They also plan to ask the LTFRB to reconsider its decision.

In Manila, Ariel Inton of the LTFRB Board confirmed there will be no need to calibrate taxi meters again.

The P40 flagdown rate, which has been in place since January 2011, will continue to be reflected in taxi meters, but commuters can start paying P10 less on Monday, March 9.

He said the rollback is temporary. He also urged commuters to report the drivers who refuse to reduce fares.

Quezon City Councilor Jesus Manuel Suntay, president of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association Inc., was unhappy with the fare decrease, saying this would lead to a lower take-home pay for drivers.

“Malaking kawalan sa mga taxi driver itong pinalabas ng LTFRB; nasa P350 kada araw ang mawawala sa kanila (This will be a big loss for the drivers, who stand to make P350 less every day),” he said.

He said the rate reduction is unjustified. (Third Anne Malonzo/Sunnex)