The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board is not considering a fare adjustment even when the region will transition to modified community quarantine by June 1.
LTFRB OIC Regional Director Lalaine Sobremonte said the board is aware of the clamor from the transport sector for a fare adjustment because of the reduced passenger capacity in public jeepneys but the consensus of the board en banc is there will be no adjustment yet.
With both drivers and passengers economically challenged as a result of the closure of businesses, Sobremonte said the LTFRB could not arbitrarily allow a fare adjustment.
During the ECQ, jeepney drivers in the Cordillera have doubled the fare to compensate the reduced number of passengers for every unit. However, the LTFRB said fare adjustments may only be done with the board’s approval. It said additional amount given to drivers should be voluntary on the part of the passenger.
For Baguio City, the local government allotted P20 million subsidy for PUJ drivers. However, the Traffic Management Division of the City Engineering Office continues to receive reports regarding jeepney associations that continue to charge double the prevailing fare rate, such as in Kias, which collects P30 from each passenger.
Traffic Management Division head Richard Lardizabal said the common complaint of drivers was even with subsidy from the government, drivers are not earning enough because of the limited trips. He said there are only enough passengers during the twice weekly market days but on other days, there are hardly passengers that could fill one jeepney.
He said the Kias jeepney association was issued a warning to follow the prescribed fare rates but last May 21, they staged a strike as their way of informing passengers about their plight.
Lardizabal said the local government will continue subsidizing jeepney drivers until the P20M it allotted shall have been exhausted. He appealed to the drivers to follow the directives of the LTFRB, rather than lose their franchise if found violating conditions in operating a public utility vehicle.
He also said the Department of Transportation is planning to give fuel subsidy to drivers to augment lost income on the part of the PUV drivers.
The last fare adjustment in the Cordillera took effect February this year. – Rimaliza A. Opiña