FUEL prices abroad are going down, putting pressure on oil dealers to also lower the price at the local level. The prices of gasoline in gas stations have been going down the past three weeks, the last one on Tuesday, Nov. 13 by a little more than P2. This should affect the petition for fare hikes filed by transport groups with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Leaders of transport groups, though, expressed caution--meaning, they are not about to recall their fare hike petitions. Julie Flores, president of the Provincial Bus and Minibus Operators Transport Cooperative, said that only when the price of gasoline reaches P35 per liter would her group recall its fare hike petition.
The Basak, Lapu-Lapu City Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association said it will still push for a provisional fare increase of P2.50 as the prices of petroleum products could still go up. This stance was echoed by the Cebu chapter of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston).
In Manila, a group calling itself the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters already asked the LTFRB to bring back the minimum fare for jeepneys in the National Capital Region and central and southern Luzon to P8 from P10. The P10 minimum fare for jeepneys in those areas was approved only recently.
This brings us back to the need for the LTFRB to come up with a better method of responding to the increases or decreases in fuel prices in relation to the hikes or drops in fares of public utility vehicles. It has become obvious that the current process of waiting for fare hike petitions before deciding on the amount is often tedious, considering the sudden fluctuations in fuel prices.
The position of the bus operators can give LTFRB officials a glimpse of a better way to peg minimum fares. A certain fuel price level would have an equivalent fare level that could be implemented automatically. There is, of course, the worry of confusion so this kind of setup needs refinement.
But the point is, it is time for the LTFRB to come up with a better fare rate-pegging mechanism.