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We formulate a phase-field description of step dynamics on vicinal surfaces that makes use of a single dynamical field, at variance with previous analogous works in which two coupled fields are employed, namely, a phase-field proper plus the physical adatom concentration. Within an asymptotic sharp interface limit, our formulation is shown to retrieve the standard Burton-Cabrera-Frank model in the general case of asymmetric attachment coefficients (Ehrlich-Schwoebel effect). We confirm our analytical results by means of numerical simulations of our phase-field model. Our present formulation seems particularly well adapted to generalization when additional physical fields are required.