March 28, 2023

A transport group operating in Cordillera and Region 1 has thrown its support to the petition for a fare increase of its national chapter filed before the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board on March 2.
Patricio Evangelista, regional president of the Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas-Cordillera and Region 1, said the fi-ling of the petition has been agreed upon due to the soaring prices of fuel, which steadily spiked from mid-2021 due to price movement in the world market and recently due to the indirect impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war.
He said based on their computations, the reasonable amount of fare increase should make the minimum fare P21, but they understood it would be too much for the riding public to shoulder and is asking for an increase of the minimum fare from P9 to P15.
The group’s petition stated the prices of modernized public utility jeepney spare parts and other accessory expenses for the operation and maintenance of the PUJ service continue to soar, yet the current minimum fare is still P9, which is not enough to cover the operating cost of the PUJ service.
Although already allowed to load passengers at full capacity, the petitioners said when they were compelled to reduce loading capacity at 50 percent to observe physical distancing as required under IATF protocols, the minimum fare was still pegged at P9.
They also cited the continuously increasing inflation rate, which kicked up the prices of basic commodities, “pushed the PUJ stakeholders to the edge and can no longer provide complete meals to their families.”
They said much to their regret and as much as they did not want to pass the burden of a fare increase to the commuters during the pandemic, they “cannot envision a government program that will mitigate the burden of the PUJ transport sector or that will abate the soaring cost operation and living expense to the members of their group.”
The group’s officials said while they acknowledge the financial assistance from the national government, such fuel assistance was made available only to operators and drivers with QR code issued by LTFRB, and there are still a number of routes not allowed to operate without the QR code despite the fact alert level restrictions have already been lifted.
They added while they are still trying to cope and survive with the prohibitive cost of PUJ operation and still suffering from the effects of the pandemic, the PUJ modernization program is still aggressively implemented.
They said they are willing to comply with the program, but the current state of the PUJ transport sector of not earning due to the increasing cost of diesel, they are in quandary how they can save enough capital to comply and they cannot obtain bank assistance since the LTFRB is not releasing a certificate of route rationalization, that banks and financial institutions requires.
Evangelista also pointed out that the LTFRB had issued a memorandum circular which should offer a solution or a formula so that the agency motu proprio will issue a fare increase order without the transport groups needing to file petitions any more every time the need arises.
He said the same, however, is not being implemented.
He added with the current crisis in Russia and Ukraine, the price of diesel will continuously shoot up and government cannot control the same other than the fuel subsidy which is limited in scope.
Evangelista said their group is hoping for a win-win solution for the transport sector and commuters. – Hanna C. Lacsamana