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Jeepney fare set at P7

First Posted 09:52:00 12/04/2008

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Good news.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has granted another 50-centavo provisional rollback in jeepney fare and the temporary removal of the P10 add-on rate on taxis.

But commuters will have to wait until Dec. 15 when the order is set to take effect.

Some drivers, however, have assured the LTFRB in Central Visayas that they will implement the fare rollback immediately.

Romulo Bernardes, LTFRB regional director, said some transport leaders have allowed their members to start collecting the new rate of P7, instead of the present P7.50 even if the new order will be implemented in 12 days yet.

He said it is the same with some taxi drivers who promised not to collect the add-on rate.

Bernardes said the LTFRB also granted a provisional rollback on bus fare but this would not be applicable in Cebu since buses here had been undercharging.

There would be no need for a new fare matrix because the fare reductions were provisional, said LTFRB Chair Thompson Lantion.

?Jeepney groups will simply post a copy of the LTFRB's order with a temporary fare guide. We will review the rates in three months' time,? Lantion said after marathon public hearings for jeepney, bus and taxi fares yesterday.

By next week, the LTFRB will be publishing the agency?s decision as well as the new fare guide on major newspapers nationwide. At the same time, Lantion said he would meet with regional LTFRB directors to discuss the fare cut for other regions.

On Feb. 18, transport groups will again convene at the LTFRB office to discuss as to whether they will retain the fare cut or revert back to original rates, depending on local oil prices.

This will be the second fare reduction for jeepneys and buses in two months. The first was on Nov. 4 when the first 50-centavo provisional reduction was implemented after fuel prices had started to drop.

Transport leaders agreed to a second rollback during a meeting in Manila yesterday after prices of diesel went down to less than P35 per liter.

Jeepney groups were amenable to cut fare temporarily by P0.50 for the first four kilometers and P0.10 for every succeeding kilometer.

In Cebu and the rest of Central Visayas, this will mean that the minimum fare will be set at P7, instead of P7.50. But in Metro Manila, this means a return to the P7.50 fare before the series of oil price increases were effected.

The P10 add-on fare for cabs has also been ?provisionally removed,? said Lantion after an agreement with taxi operators.

He said the taxis could retain their P10 add-on stickers provided that they would no longer implement it. Should taxi drivers insist or demand the P10 add-on fare Dec. 15 onwards, commuters could report the incident to the LTFRB.

In Metro Manila, the fare for ordinary buses will be set at P9 for the first five kilometers and P1.85 for every succeeding kilometer.

The existing rate is P9.50 plus P1.95 per extra kilometer. The minimum fare used to be P10 for ordinary buses in Metro Manila.

Aircon buses will maintain their minimum fare of P11 but will cut the rate for succeeding kilometers to P2.20 from P2.35.

In provincial routes, members of the Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines (PBOAP) agreed to trim 5 centavos off on the per-kilometer charge of ordinary and aircon buses.

For air-conditioned buses, this will be down to P1.65 from PP1.70. For regular buses, it will be P1.35 from P1.40.

Two transport leaders in Cebu asked their members not to wait for Dec. 15 before implementing the order.

?Kung naay mohatag og sobra ilang dawaton, kung mohangyo ang pasahero nga dili lang patungan og 10, wa pod silay problema, dili nila I-inisist (If the passengers will give extra, the drivers may accept it. But if the passengers would request not to add P10, it would not be a problem. The drivers would not insist),? Yu said.

Citrasco members have 1,000 jeepney units and 200 taxi cabs.

Yu said his sentiment was shared by two other transport groups ? the Visayas United Drivers Transport and Allied Services Cooperative (Vudtrasco) and Alyansa sa mga Nagkahiusang Drayber alang sa Reporma (Andar).

But the president of the biggest association of taxi operators in Cebu would rather wait for the order to take effect on Dec. 15

Richard Cabucos, head of the Metro Cebu Taxi Operators Association (MCTOA), said they would not volunteer to remove the add-on-rate.

?Kung unsay decision sa board wa mi mahimo kay sila maoy naghatag sila say motangtang (Whatever will be the decision of the board, there is nothing we can do but to abide by it. They give the add-on rate to us. They can also remove it),? Cabucos said.

Bernardes said he was still happy that some transport leaders agreed to implement the ruling immediately.

?It may not be 100 percent nga mosukot na og P7. Siguro naa pay ubang drivers nga mang-iyawat kutob sa December 14 nga pagsukot sa P7.50,? he added.

Asked why the LTFRB board scheduled the implementation to Dec. 15, Bernardes said the agency may need more time to prepare the formal order and guidelines. The LTFRB regional directors are also scheduled to be briefed on the new directive on Dec. 8 in Manila.

Aside from that, he added the board wants the information to be properly disseminated.

?I don?t want to question sa wisdom sa decision sa board, but maybe they believe that more time is needed to prepare and disseminate the guidelines,? he said.

Bernardes said LTFRB will still issue notices for the P7 minimum fare for jeepneys, but operators will no longer have to pay to have a copy.

?The drivers don't have to pay the matrices. The office will prepare the notice that the new minimum fare will be P7,? he said.

Yu said he was thankful that the fare rollback is only temporary since it is still possible that the fuel prices will go up again.

Once this happens, he added the drivers and operators will demand for an increase in fare.

Lawyer Manuel Iway, former LTFRB regional director, said he would insist that the minimum fare for jeepneys should be at P6 following the huge drop in fuel prices.

But Yu said the P6 in minimum fare can only be implemented if the diesel prices will go down to P28 per liter. At present, the price of diesel is at P36.76 per liter.

He said fuel is just one aspect of their operation. The commuters, he added, must understand that they also have to pay for tires, lubricants and other spare parts, which are expensive.

Cabucos said taxi operators did not benefit from the P10 add-on rate. But he said it increased the drivers' take-home pay.

Drivers need to bring home at least P400 to P500 to their families especially that they work for 24 hours every other day.

Before the add-on rate was implemented, Cabucos said the drivers could hardly pay rental of their units.

The impact of the removal of the add -on rate would be determined in February, said Cabucos. /With Inquirer

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