MMDA seeks bus fare cut

Manila, Philippines --- The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) justified Friday before the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) its petition seeking for bus fare cut for those taking buses from Cavite and Batangas province.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, who appeared before the LTFRB hearing of the petition, aired the claim of provincial buses that by using the southwest interim integrated terminal (SIIT) they save operational and maintenance expenses, compared to expenses in terminals they are presently renting.

Their savings must be translated to lower the fare charged to commuters. "Bus companies can use the SIIT for free as it has been subsidized by the government," said Tolentino, adding that they are seeking 8-20 percent fare cut. "If the petition is approved, minimum fare for Cavite and Batangas buses could go down by at least P10," he added. Four private citizens namely Ligaya Cagurangan, Rosita Dela Cruz, Anelita Abary, and Lilibeth Pilola, also joined in the petition in their capacity as residents of Cavite and who are directly affected by the outcome of the petition.

By availing of SIIT facility, public utility buses (PUBs) travel 10 kilometers less to and from their loading and unloading points, and avoid traffic on their Manila terminals, saving bus companies up to 3.75 liters of fuel per trip, they said in their supplemental petition.

Based on current SIIT data, PUBs make at least four trips to and from the terminal per day on the average. Bus companies could save at least P600 per day on fuel consumption alone.

Tolentino said PUBs pay monthly terminal fees up to P240,000 while others pay P3,500 per day. By using the SIIT, buses could save at least P2.8 million a year in terminal expenses. At 3,500 per day, bus companies would save at least P105,000 a month or P1.2 million a year in terminal or parking fees.

Reduction in route distance travelled translates to less wear and tear on the subject buses, thereby reducing expenses of subject bus companies in the maintenance of their PUB units. "Their savings are enough to lower the fare," said Tolentino. The bus operators were given time to submit their comment or opposition to the LTFRB.

Since the terminal was opened last Aug. 6, buses from two provinces were only allowed up to a new terminal in Parañaque City, from which commuters can take other public transport like jeepneys, buses, Asian utility vehicles and taxis to bring them to their destinations.