Transport groups seek P12 minimum fare amid increasing fuel costs

Published October 13, 2021, 1:58 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

A P12 minimum fare is being eyed by several transport groups as they formally filed on Wednesday, Oct. 13, a petition for a fare increase amid skyrocketing fuel prices and financial woes triggered by the pandemic.

(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Transport group leaders trooped to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) office to ask for an additional P3 on public utility jeepney (PUJ) fares to compensate for the rising fuel prices.

Pasang Masda, Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO), Land Transportation Organization of the Philippines (LTOP), Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), and Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines Inc., (ALTODAP) signed the request.

In their consolidated petition, the groups argued that the expenses for the operation and maintenance of PUJ services “drastically increase” since the last fare increase was approved by the Board in 2018.

“The current minimum fare is still freeze at P9.00 which is apparently not enough even to cover the operating cost of the PUJ service,” the groups said.

Pasang Masda President Obet Martin said jeepney operators and drivers are still reeling hard from the effects of public transport restrictions brought by the pandemic coupled with the steady rise in fuel costs.

“Ang mga miyembro namin ay nagdadaingan na at nakikita ko na nahihirapan na talaga sila. Lugi na rin kasi ang kinikita lang ng mga driver ngayon ay P200 (Our members are already complaining and I can see that they are really struggling. They are also operating at a loss as drivers now only earn P200),” Martin bared.

This was echoed by LTOP President Lando Marquez who said that they have been half-hearted about whether or not to file for a fare increase as the country is still facing a pandemic but they were left with no choice as drivers are also having a hard time.

“Ayaw sana namang magfile kasi nga tayo lahat ay nadisgrasya ng pandemic, kaya wala kaming alternative, hindi kami kinakausap ng gobyerno (We don’t really want to file because we know that we are all affected by the pandemic, but we have no alternative and the government is not talking to us),” Marquez added.

However, the groups said there is a possibility to withdraw their petition once the government granted them enough subsidy to cover their operating expenses.

“I-wo-work out pa rin po namin ang aming kahilingan na subsidy. Kapag na-grant ito, i-re-recall ko po ang aming petition for fare increase para sa ating mga kababayan na naghihirap sa panahon ng pandemya (We will still work on our subsidy request. Once granted, I will recall our petition for fare increase [to help] the public who have been suffering because of the pandemic),” Martin said.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has been firm on his stand against increasing fares on public transport, adding that many people would be adversely affected.

The DOTr chief added that stakeholders should continuously look for alternative ways to help PUV drivers who have been struggling amid the health crisis.

Meanwhile, LTFRB Executive Director Joel Bolano said the Board will still review the petition filed by the transport groups, but if approved, the possible minimum fare hike for public transport would be around P1.26.

“Kung pagbabasehan yung formula sa memorandum circular na ginagamit batay sa mga increases ng petrolyo, based sa aming computation, hindi lalampas sa P1.26 more or less (In our computation based on the formula and the fuel price increases, [the fare hike] will not exceed P1.26),” Bolano explained.

Bolano also emphasized the need to strike a balance between the needs of the drivers and the riding public especially in this time of pandemic.

The transport officials likewise vowed to continue implementing its programs for frontliners in the transport sector which was among the hardest hit by the pandemic, such as the service contracting program.

Under the program, the government through the DOTr and the LTFRB will provide a weekly payout to PUV operators and drivers based on kilometers and trips on top of a one-time incentive of P5,000 per unit.

 
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