Editorial: Tackling the fare hike petition

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Thursday, June 5, 2014


IS THE P7.50 minimum fare for public utility jeepneys (PUJ) in Cebu already obsolete? That is the question the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 wants both the riding public and the transport sector here to answer during a hearing set for June 24.

Earlier, the Cebu Integrated Transport Service Cooperative Inc. (Citrasco) filed a petition to jack up the minimum PUJ fare from P7.50 to P10, or a whooping P2.50 increase. And unlike before when public hearings for fare hike petitions were held in Manila, the Citrasco initiative will be debated on in Cebu.

Interestingly, the LTFRB head office has already approved a 50 centavos increase in minimum fare for PUJs plying the various routes in Metro Manila and in Central and Southern Luzon. The P1.40 additional fare per succeeding kilometer will now be P1.50.

The hike in the minimum fare of PUJs in parts of Luzon can give the riding public and transport operators a feel of the temperament of LTFRB 7 officials. Expect them to be a bit conservative, too.

Discussions on fare hike petitions, though, are necessarily broad. It cannot be limited to the measuring of the effect of rising prices of fuel and spare parts that drivers and transport operators usually incorporate in their fare hike petitions.

Other factors, like a fare hike’s impact on the economy and the pay of ordinary wage earners should also be considered.

The problem is that there is no broad alliance that would be the voice of commuters in the public hearing. We have heard the militants express opposition to the Citrasco petition, but that seems to be all. Without groups that would articulate the stance of the riding public, the fare hike petition could be approved.

The role of LTFRB 7 is merely recommendatory, meaning that the decision will come from the LTFRB head office. Even then, it is necessary for LTFRB officials to get as much inputs as possible so their recommendation will be objective.

Deciding on a fare hike petition is a difficult balancing act. That is why it is necessary for representatives of the riding public to attend the June 24 hearing to ensure that the arguments against the fare hike petition will be presented and adequately tackled.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 06, 2014.

Opinion

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