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Jeepney fares up by P1 starting Oct. 8 — LTFRB

October 4 ------ Fares for traditional and modern jeepneys nationwide will increase by P1 starting Oct. 8 after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) approved on Tuesday a petition filed by transport groups for a provisional increase.

LTFRB Chair Teofilo Guadiz III told reporters that the adjustment was temporary as the board would still hear on Nov. 7 the main petition for a permanent P5 increase in the flag-down rate. “In the meantime, because there were already 11 gasoline price increases, what we granted is—in my words—pangtawid lang muna while we process their request, which would be a different case,” Guadiz said. He clarified that the LTFRB granted only a P1 provisional fare increase for the first 4 kilometers and “there will be no additional [hike] for the succeeding kilometers.” Even if the prices of gasoline and diesel decrease in the coming weeks, Guadiz said they would not recall the provisional fare adjustment “until the board says there is no need for an increase.” He also appealed to drivers to wait for Sunday before implementing the fare increase, warning that they face a suspension or revocation of their franchise if they imposed the increase before Oct. 8. In its ruling on the petition, the LTFRB cited the steady rise in fuel prices, which has “brought another challenge to keep our public transport services running.”

Petroleum prices have remained high globally due to supply constraints. The year-to-date net increase in local pump prices as of last week was P17.30 a liter for gasoline and P13.40 a liter for diesel. “While the board recognizes the plight of the Filipino people every time an increase in the price of commodities occurs, including the cost of public transport, it cannot be insensitive to the clamor and plight of the PUV (public utility vehicle) operators and drivers who are responsible [for] ensuring a steady supply of public transport service,” the LTFRB said.

Big help to drivers

On Aug. 22, transport groups Pangkalahatang Sanggunian Manila at Suburbs Drivers Association (Pasang Masda), the Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Altodap), and the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations filed a formal petition asking for a P5 fare hike for the first 4 km and an additional P1 for every succeeding kilometer. In their request, the groups appealed to the LTFRB to grant a provisional adjustment in the current minimum fare from P12 to P13 for traditional jeepneys and from P13 to P14 for modern jeepneys, pending the hearing of their main petition.

Roberto Martin of Pasang Masda said they were grateful for the approval of the provisional fare hike as this would increase the income of drivers and operators to around P350 to P450 daily. Martin said the estimated increase was based on a study that found that traditional jeepneys ferry around 300 passengers a day and about 400 people for modern jeepneys. “We are satisfied because our prayer is for a P1 provisional increase. The main petition is still scheduled [for hearing in] November,” he said. The transport leader appealed to commuters to understand their situation because “we really need [the fare increase] this time.” “You saw in 2018 that when the price of diesel suddenly fell … we went to the LTFRB ourselves and said we will lower the [minimum] fare to P9,” he noted.

Melencio Vargas of Altodap said they would agree to return the minimum fare to P12 if fuel prices would go back to P56 to P57 from a high of P73.75 a liter for diesel as of Monday.

Impact on inflation

Guadiz said they would need to consider a lot of factors before deciding on the main petition for a permanent P5 fare increase. “We need the data of cause-oriented groups we invited today … as well as data from the National Economic and Development Authority to determine the possible effect [of a fare hike] on the country’s inflation [rate],” Guadiz said. Based on an informal survey conducted by the group The Passengers Forum, its convener Primo Morillo told the LTFRB that 71 percent of their respondents did not want a fare increase. In the same survey, Morillo said they also asked what would be an acceptable fare increase, to which 43 percent of the respondents answered P1, while 29 percent hoped that it would be less than P1. “It means that in looking at their budget, even the centavos are important to the commuters,” he said.

Morillo added that they attended the hearing because they were “surprised” by the P5 fare hike petition. “We said no, P5 is too big and this permanent fare increase is even more heavy especially if we consider that our fellow commuters ride a jeep four to six times,” he pointed out. Morillo said the government should find other solutions to address the continuous oil price hikes, including the suspension of the taxes on fuel. The group Move as One Coalition, which also attended the hearing on Tuesday, called on the Marcos administration to immediately implement the P1.28-billion service contracting program, which could help thousands of drivers and millions of commuters amid the transport crisis.



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