Taxicabs, buses stop operations amid rising fuel prices, pandemic

Metro Manila, June 22 ------ Taxi and bus operators said many of their members stopped plying the roads amid rising fuel prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a consultative meeting in the Senate, Quezon City Rep. Bong Suntay, who is also the president of the Philippine National Taxi Operators Association, said around 27,000 units were operating in Metro Manila prior to the pandemic. Now, 12,000 taxicabs are no longer on the road. “Basically two drivers per unit on the part of the taxi (operators), so roughly nawalan tayo ng mga—on the part of the taxi lang in Metro Manila—around 32,000 drivers,” he added. Around 5,600 buses going in and out of Metro Manila have also stopped operating, according to Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines executive director Alex Yague. He also said that only 20-30% of the sector remains operational and the problem has resulted in some 26,000 drivers, bus conductors, and other personnel losing their jobs. In Cebu, at least 50 public utility drivers have stopped plying their routes amid the rising fuel prices. Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide Cebu coordinator Greg Perez said this is about 10% of their 500 members in the province. He added the drivers either just stayed at home or returned to their hometowns because they could no longer afford the cost of fuel.

Senate committee on energy chairman Sherwin Gatchalian called for the immediate implementation of another round of fuel subsidy. He also urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to address other issues like delays in the service contracting program. There have been calls for the suspension of excise tax on fuel products. President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has said he is unlikely to push for it because he wants to focus on helping those who are in danger of losing their livelihoods through immediate distribution of cash assistance.