Editorial: Fare hike petition

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Friday, May 9, 2014


IT'S like the way some vendors in Carbon market peg the price of their goods. An item whose actual cost is P150 may be priced as high as P200, depending on how they size up the customer. When the latter wavers, he or she is then told, “Hangyo lang.” Then the haggling starts.

The Cebu Integrated Transport Service Cooperative (Citrasco) has filed a petition with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) seeking to increase the jeepney fare to P10 from the current P7.50 for the first five kilometers. That’s a “whooping” P2.50 rise in the minimum fare.

Citrasco, of course, would be hard put in defending such a high fare hike demand. Commuters would surely be for a status quo. But by demanding a P10 increase, the transport group is probably hoping LTFRB would meet them halfway, perhaps at P8.50 or P9.

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But fares of public utility jeepneys and buses are not a product of haggling but a result of a deep study on many variables.

One factor that usually triggers demands for fare hikes is the rise in the price of petroleum products. But transport groups have wisely added there the supposedly rising price of spare parts. For government, the concern is always how a fare hike would affect the cost of living of commuters and the price of transported goods.

One good change would be for the LTFRB Board to put a bigger weight on the recommendation of its regional offices on the fare hike petition.

There were instances in the past when the fare hike approved for Central Visayas were higher than what the transport groups demanded because of the LTFRB Board’s lack of familiarity with local conditions.

Meanwhile, if commuters do not want to be left out in the fare hike decision-making process, then they must present a united front during the public hearings that will be conducted. The reality in past public hearings is that while transport groups are well-organized, commuters are not, thus weakening their position on the fare hike petitions.

Deciding a fare hike petition is a difficult balancing act considering its impact on people and the economy. The process should not be left solely on transport groups and concerned government agencies.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 10, 2014.

Opinion

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