Bus, Taxi Fare Increase Pushed

MANILA, Philippines - Operators of city and provincial buses and metered taxis urged yesterday the government to grant them provisional fare increase after it allowed jeepney operators to charge passengers 50-centavo extra fare because of rising cost of fuel.

Saying they are also suffering from the unabated oil price hikes, members of the Metro Bus Transport Club (MBTC) and the Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines (PBOAP) urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to act on their individual fare hike petitions, which were pending for resolution since 2007 and 2008, respectively.

MBTC spokesperson Atty. Grace Adducol said that operators of bus companies plying Metro Manila routes have been asking government permission to increase ordinary city bus fares from P8 to P12 for the first five kilometers and from P1.85 to P4.35 for each succeeding kilometer, and air-conditioned bus fares from P10 to P14.50 for the first five kilometers and from P2.20 to P5.20 for each succeeding kilometer.

Current bus fares are pegged at P10 for ordinary city buses and P12 for air-conditioned city buses after the LTFRB granted a provisional P2 hike in 2008. But Adducol said that the operators' main petition was not yet resolved since 2007.

But the government warned jeepney operators who refuse to grant fare discounts, overcharge or follow the conditions of the provisional 50-centavo minimum fare hike risk getting fined or having their franchises revoked.

LTFRB Spokesperson Sonia del Mundo reminded jeepney operators that they also have to secure and post a Notice of Provisional Fare Increase inside their units before being able to charge the 50-centavo extra fare.

Del Mundo said operators will be fined P2,000 for the first offense, P3,000 for the second offense, or cancellation of franchise for the third offense of overcharging and not following the conditions of the provisional fare increase.