DOUBLE BURDEN: Fare hike worries inflation-hit commuters

Commuters are groaning under the burdens of a sluggish economy, inflation and fare hikes. (Arnold Almacen file photo)

By John Noel E. Herrera

With the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB’s) approval of fare hikes for jeepneys, other public utility vehicles (PUVs), and transport network vehicle services (TNVS) on Oct 3, 2022, commuters are fretting over the added burden for them, especially with the increase in prices of some commodities.

While PUV drivers can now bring home higher income to their families, some commuters said it is not fair to increase fares at this time, as everyone is struggling and affected by the economic downturn and runaway inflation or spikes in prices of basic goods.

Julie, 49, a resident of Molo, Iloilo City, said that the fare increase is unfair as it never went down since it was doubled during the pandemic because of the 50 percent capacity limit in jeepneys then.

“Unfair gid eh. Sang nag-pandemic, gin-doble ang plite kay 50 percent lang ang pwede sa jeep kay social distancing, tapos sang nagbalik na sa 100 percent, amu man sagihapon, wala magnubo. Subong, sige pa gid taas ya,” Julie said.

Another commuter said he understood the need for fare hikes, but the government should also increase the salary of workers as they also have families to take care of.

“Maintindihan man na, pero tani ma-ano man sang gobyerno nga hindi lang drivers may pamilya nga gina-buhi, kung taas ang plete, tani taasan mas sweldo para balanse lang,” Bob Esteves said.

Hanzel Kim Ortiz of Igbaras, Iloilo, a college student, also raised a concern on his Facebook account that some drivers do not give discounts to students and senior citizens.

“As a student nga ga commute everyday just to attend my face-to-face classes, the P60 fare from Igbaras to Mohon is very heavy sa akon bulsa, and I know nga I am not the only one who felt the weight of this directive. That’s why I’m asking to let the students avail the 20% student discount. As far as I know, under Section 5&6 of RA 11314 or Student Fare Discount Act, students are entitled to avail such discount to all public transportation vehicles,” Ortiz said.

Jovie Tacanloy, a first-year college student from Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT-U) La Paz campus also said the fare hike would likely be a burden for her since she relies on her parents for allowance.

Meanwhile, some jeepney and PUV drivers said that the fare hike will somehow ease their burden amid the soaring price of fuel.

“Bahul run man ja nga bulig, kapin pa sige man taas kang gasolina tulad,” Antonio Econde said.

A taxi driver, however, said that with the P5 addition to the flag-down rate, passengers might not ride in taxis anymore, and will instead ride jeepneys.

Some jeepneys, buses, and PUVs in both Iloilo City and the province are yet to raise fares as they have not yet been issued a new fare matrix by the LTFRB.

LTFRB also reminds commuters not to pay additional rates unless there is a new fare matrix displayed inside the vehicles.

A fare matrix displayed conspicuously inside the PUVs is one of the strict conditions for the implementation of the fare hike.

The LTFRB approved a P1 provisional increase in the minimum fare for the first four kilometers for traditional public utility jeepneys (TPUJs) and modern public utility jeepneys (MPUJs), making the minimum rate for TPUJs P12 and P14 for MPUJs, from P11 and P13, respectively.

It also approved an additional fare of P0.30 per succeeding kilometer for TPUJs and an increase of P0.40 per succeeding kilometer for MPUJs.

Flag down rate for taxis and sedan-type TNVS will now be at P45, while the per-kilometer additional charge for taxis will remain at P2.

The LTFRB also approved a P2 uniformed base fare increase for provincial and city buses for the first five kilometers and an additional charge of P0.35 to P0.50 per kilometer, depending on the type of bus.

The fare increase will cover most forms of land transportation, as the board earlier said it recognized the need given the continued increase in petroleum prices.

The board also reminded drivers and operators to implement discount rates for students, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and senior citizens.