DESPITE the withdrawal of the fare increase petition last June 24 by the Cebu Integrated Transport Service Cooperative (Citrasco), the Alliance of Transport Operators Manning Inter-City (Atomic) may file it separately by itself.

Atomic Chairman Rudy Laconza said the earnings of Public Utility Jeepneys (PUJ) drivers dropped substantially and further deteriorated their income.

Laconza and his group attended the scheduled hearing but was caught by surprise when Citrasco Chairman Benjamin Ryan Yu announced that they were withdrawing the case and urged LTFRB to run after colorum units.

He said there are two major factors that decreased their income.

First is the bad road condition that always damaged their units especially tires. Second, is the opening of additional routes resulting in stiff competition.

Laconza said that despite that the right to live and the right to livelihood are guaranteed by the Constitution, the PUJ drivers are the most abused, neglected and ignored by the government.

He said that while some hardened criminals and some government officials who pocketed billions of public funds remained free, it’s easy for the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Cebu City Traffic Operations and Management (Citom) to impose fines and imprisonment on those who violate traffic laws.

Laconza said high fines and suspension or cancellation of PUJ drivers’ license is tantamount to repression and harassment.

While the government strictly imposes no stopping and no parking signs in major thoroughfares, it does not designate enough embarking and disembarking areas for passengers.

Travel lines

Laconza said LTFRB issued several kinds of certificate of public convenience, or franchise, cutting of travel lines that also cut their income.

He said that for several decades now, PUJ drivers remained poverty-stricken because their low income prevents them from savings a percentage of it. (EOB)