Fare hike worries drivers, commuters

·6 min read

SAYING the fare hike would be an added burden amid the increasing prices of some commodities, some commuters and drivers of public utility vehicles (PUVs) worry about the impact of higher fares on the riding public.

While some drivers received it as good news as it would let them bring home higher income to their families at the end of the day, some commuters said it is not fair to increase fares at this time.

Paul Purgatorio, 35, a traditional jeepney driver plying the Labangon-SM City route, said the fare hike is good for them but it is not the solution to help commuters and drivers.

He said he earns around P3,000 per day, but it is not enough since he spends around P1,000 for fuel and rents the PUJ for P1,100 per day.

Purgatorio said the government should tackle increasing the minimum wage for workers, as he believes it would improve the situation of the drivers as well.

“Kun usbawan ang pletehan mas maayo pero dapat unta pud maghuna huna sila sa ubang commuters kay dili baya tanan ana nila dagko ug sweldo, minimum ra pud (If the fares are increased, it will be better. But they should also consider the commuters as many of them earn minimum wage),” said Purgatorio.

Jerry Veloso, 65, a resident of Bulacao, Talisay City, said the fare increase is unfair to commuters, adding it is not only drivers who have families to feed.

Veloso said he spends around P230 on his commute to Cebu City.

He also lamented the unruly behavior of some drivers who do not give senior citizens a fare discount.

Jam Mica, 19, a first-year college student who commutes to Cebu City from Danao City in northern Cebu, said the fare increase would likely be a burden since they rely on their parents for allowance.

For Marlo Gernanteo, a taxi driver who has been driving for almost 10 years, said the P5 increase in the flag-down rate would create a problem rather than a solution.

Gernanteo said more commuters would choose not to take a cab with the higher fare.

He said he often goes home empty-handed because many people choose to ride jeepneys and modern buses for practical reasons.

Gernanteo said there are days when he could not come up with the P1,000 rent for his unit since he spends at least P1,000 on fuel per day.

Vicente Pontilla, a modern bus driver plying the Guadalupe-SM City route, said the fare increase would help drivers cope with the increasing fuel prices.

‘Permanent’

Meanwhile, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. has clarified that the fare increase for PUVs, particularly the P1 fare for traditional and modernized jeepneys, is already permanent and no longer provisional.

Montealto told SunStar Cebu that there was a P2 provisional base fare that was approved sometime in June and took effect in July this year.

Montealto said of the amount, the LTFRB approved a permanent increase of only P1.

“Ang provisional anytime pwedeng bawion kon mobaba ang diesel kay mao man na ang number one nga factor. So karon dili na mabawi kay kinahanglan na og consultative meeting with the stakeholders (A provisional increase can be recalled when fuel prices go down since fuel is the number one factor for the increase. So now, this increase cannot be recalled any time since this would require a consultative meeting with stakeholders),” he said on Saturday, Sept. 17, a day after the LTFRB Central Office announced the fare hike.

On Friday, Sept. 16, LTFRB approved what they said is the provisional base fare increase for jeepneys, buses, taxis and Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS).

In a statement, the LTFRB said the minimum fare for the first four kilometers for traditional public utility jeepneys (TPUJ) will soon be P12 from the current P11, with an additional fare of P.30 per succeeding kilometer.

For modern PUJs, the minimum fare will be P14 from the current P13, with an additional P.40 for every succeeding kilometer.

“Based on the increase, the fare for succeeding kilometer run for TPUJ will be P1.80 from the current P1.50, while for MPUJ, [it] will be P2.20 from P1.80,” the agency said.

Jeepney drivers earlier filed a petition seeking a P3 increase in the minimum fare amid the soaring prices of oil brought about by the conflict in Ukraine, among other reasons.

For public utility buses (PUBs), the LTFRB approved a P2 uniform base fare increase for both city and provincial buses for the first five kilometers with additional fare of P.35 to P.50 every succeeding kilometer, depending on the type of bus.

Bus groups, for their part, asked for a P4 to P7 fare increase.

The LTFRB also increased the flag-down rate of taxis from P40 to P45 and P55 for TNVS except for hatchback type TNVS, whose flag-down rate is P35.

“There will be no increase in the fare for the succeeding kilometers,” the agency said.

The fare increase is expected to take effect on Oct. 3, or 15 days after publication.

The LTFRB said the 20 percent discount for senior citizens, persons with disability (PWDs) and students will remain.

No fare reduction

The regional director said the LTFRB will not reduce the fare if there is no consultation with commuters and drivers and operators, who serve as primary and secondary stakeholders, respectively.

“Up to now fuel prices have not gone down. It’s still around P78 to P79 per liter. Then the variation would depend on the prices of fuel in China, Ukraine, Russia and United States,” Montealto said in explaining why the LTFRB was forced to approve the petition for an increase.

He said the baseline before the fare increase was based on the average cost of fuel prices, such as diesel, which, at that time, was P49. With this, the regional director asked the commuting public to be patient and understanding.

Montealto said it is also inhumane if they will not support the livelihood of the drivers and operators, adding that the government has already spent a lot for their subsidies.

Gregory Perez, chairman of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) Cebu chapter, told SunStar Cebu the transport group welcomed the development but felt the burden of the commuting public.

“This could mean only one thing... it’s an additional burden for the commuters, especially for those whose salary did not increase significantly,” Perez said in Cebuano.

He said Piston did not petition for another fare hike for PUVs, particularly for traditional and modern jeepneys, but other transport groups were forced to ask for an increase as the government reportedly had no measures on how to address the increasing fuel prices and the excise tax.