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Friday, April 19, 2019

Villanueva: Ang mahal kong Taxi

MARCH 5 was the first day that the fare adjustment for taxi cabs was implemented where the rate is now P13.50 per kilometer from P2.00 for every 200 meters, and P2.00 for every minute of running time from P2.00 per minute of waiting time. The flagdown rate remained the same.

Those with plate numbers ending with 1, 2 or 3 are those that were required to have their meters calibrated during the month of March.

However, a prerequisite for calibration is the installation of GPS, CCTV, Dashboard Camera and WIFI. I was earlier informed that these may be installed including the calibration for a package amount of P10,000, but a taxi driver told me the other day that they may be sourced from different suppliers. In doing so, it would cost around P11,000. These amounts excluding the fee that needs to be paid to LTO amounting to P1,500 or so.

This is a huge cash outlay especially for the smaller operators.

Although, of course, accountants would classify this outlay as a capital expenditure. Nevertheless, it is sizeable. That is why, the cab I rode has already installed the dashcam and CCTV even if the taxi is not due for calibration until May. That way, he can spread his costs over a longer period rather than spending one time-big time.

These expenditures, coupled with spare parts price increases, would prompt the operators to hike the drivers’ quota (a.k.a. boundary). This, including the almost weekly fuel price increase, would, in turn, result to lower (sometimes almost none) take home of our dear drivers after a 24-hour shift.

On the side of the commuter, this takes a toll on their budget as well. I am a regular taxi patron and the average increase in my fare for the regular routes I take is P25, and the highest increase was P50. For a regular employee, the higher fares are heavy on my budget. I can imagine this for students, self-employed, businessmen, etc.

When looking at the adjustments, the P35 flagdown rate, which did not change, and the P13.50 rate per kilometer is just fair. Some commuters think that the rate per kilometer is too much, but considering the costs that taxi cabs incur, that is just about right, essentially increasing by P3.50 per kilometer.

The P2.00 per minute of running time is especially a concern on my part and many commuters, as well. This would mean that from the moment my butt touches the taxi cab’s leather seat cover to the time I alight, it would cost me P2.00 per minute.

My usual travel time especially that traffic flow along Marcos Highway is stifled my some people who thought they are managing the traffic but actually mismanaging it, is 15 to 20 minutes. That is already, at most, P40. Add flagdown of P35, and 4 kilometers distance cost of P54, and sums up to P129, from what used to be only P79.

Two things that I am particularly curious on are: First, Wi-Fi. The GPS, CCTV and dashcam, I get the reason why they are needed, but the Wi-Fi is totally unnecessary. I do not see the need for it. If it’s for the convenience of commuters, most commuters have mobile data already, and they’d rather use it than what may be provided by the taxi because it is more likely that it is slower.

Second, the running time charges. I don’t see the reason why it’s running time. I really do not mind the waiting time charges because the cabs are also losing while stuck in traffic. Especially now that our roads are more traffic, I feel that charging the running time is unfair.

My resolve is that I would have to drastically decrease my taxi cab rides. I average 10 rides per weeks, so I will make ways in order for me to take the jeepney, and cut my taxi rides by 50 percent to five rides at most per week. I am guessing that most commuters will do the same or even less.

What are the implications of this result?

First, for the operators and drivers. They would have to consider these adjustments of the commuters. They would have to adjust their costing and forecasts on their finances as well. Secondly, for the policy/law makers and/or implementing agencies. They should consider the overall effects of the policies and laws they make and implement. Lastly, for commuters. They would have to consider the effect of their consumption behavior to other stakeholders.

But then again, if we believe in the theory of Adam Smith regarding self-interest, then we can say that the commuters will think of themselves; the operators will think of their advantage; and, the officials will think of what’s in it for them. The drivers are left with almost nothing.

Prices of goods and services are rising, as the inflation rate. The Peso is depreciating against the whole world. And the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is still adamant to implement expansionary monetary policies.

At the end of the day, the poor becomes poorer; the rich, richer; and, the powerful becomes more powerful, even enjoying high trust ratings, and with trolls ready to defend every word, thought and action of their almighty. Truth to say, change has really come. Congratulations for a job well done!
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