February 9, 2023

The federation of jeepney associations in the Cordillera has asked the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to consider granting a provisional fare increase in the event the physical distancing policy inside public utility vehicles continues to be implemented after the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine.

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the extension of ECQ in Benguet and Baguio up to May 15.

Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association president Patricio Evangelista said during the city council’s April 25 session that jeepney associations in the provinces are also appealing to their local government units to help them during the transition by allotting funds for the installation of dividers markers inside jeepneys to maintain physical distancing of passengers, purchase of disinfectants or sanitizers, or funds that will compensate for the loss of income due to the suspension of mass transportation.

Evangelista said some jeepney associations and individual drivers have initiated this but not all associations can sustain this in the long term.

The funds of some jeepney associations have likewise been depleted as this was spent for the needs of their members who were not able to avail of the government’s amelioration programs because they do not meet some qualifications.

Under the ECQ status, all forms of public transportation are suspended. Jeepneys and taxicabs are allowed to operate by their respective LGUs on certain days only and only a few units are given a special permit. The number of passengers allowed in each unit has also been reduced to half of the PUV’s total capacity.

To compensate for the reduced number of passengers, jeepney associations have been collecting more than the minimum fare sans LTFRB approval.

LTFRB OIC Director Lalaine Sobremonte said payment of additional fare should be voluntary on the part of the passenger.

“Collection of additional fare is not allowed. In the enhanced community quarantine, wala dapat public transportation. The LGUs only allowed some to operate to accommodate those who need to buy their essentials, so dapat voluntary lang sana ang pagbigay ng dagdag na pasahe,” Sobremonte told the Courier.

The LTFRB is currently gathering data for computation of income loss on the part of the transportation sector to be submitted to concerned agencies for possibility of government assistance to said sector. – Rimaliza A. Opiña