LTFRB 7: Fare hike to P40 unlikely

LTFRB 7
LTFRB 7(Photo by Thea Jane Sabucido)

AMID public apprehension over a potential jump in modern jeepney fares from P15 to P40, an official from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Central Visayas (LTFRB 7) has assured commuters that this is not feasible.

This follows a warning from a local transport leader about fare increases upon full implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), raising concerns among commuters.

Reynaldo Elnar, chief transportation development officer of the LTFRB 7, refuted the claim in an interview on Saturday afternoon, May 4, 2024, saying all fare increases undergo thorough discussion to consider opinions from different stakeholders.

“Dili gyud na in-ani nga madali nga mosaka kay [magkinahanglan] man g’yud nga naay petition,” he said.

(It’s not that easy for fares to increase because it requires a petition.)

Echoing Department of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista’s earlier statement on the issue, Elnar said that fuel costs are the primary driver of most fare adjustments.

However, Elnar clarified that despite recent fuel price hikes, they cannot immediately raise the minimum fare for public transportation.

Elnar said that usually when their agency receives petitions, they need to be reviewed and a public hearing with concerned stakeholders, including the operators, drivers and passengers should be done.

In a statement last January, Bautista said when tackling these petitions, the National Economic and Development Authority will also issue an opinion regarding the inflationary effect of any increase, along with giving due consideration to the commuting public.

P40 fare forecast

Last May 1, SunStar Cebu reported that Gregory Perez, head of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) Cebu Chapter, warned that fares could rise to as much as P40 or even higher, based on forecasts by a research group.

Perez said that this will likely be the scenario if traditional jeepneys are completely banned from operating or if modern jeepneys monopolize the public transportation sector.

The Piston Cebu leader added that modern jeepney operators won’t push for fare hikes if their traditional counterparts do not seek increased rates.

The non-profit research organization Ibon Foundation said that fares would inevitably increase due to the modernization of fleets and the consolidation of transport service providers, along with the rise in transport costs, even with economies of scale.

It highlighted that when the PUVMP was launched in 2017, the minimum fare for traditional jeepneys was P8.

The organization predicted the minimum fare to range between P15 and P25 in the next three to five years. Furthermore, it anticipated the minimum fare to eventually reach as high as P45 to P50.

Under the PUVMP, the National Government mandates operators of traditional jeepney units to form or join a cooperative or corporation to continue operating, requiring them to surrender their individual franchises. The cooperative or corporation needs at least 10 members.

The program aims to replace old, dilapidated jeepneys and other PUVs that are at least 15 years old with modern, safer and more comfortable vehicles emitting lower emissions, thereby reducing pollution.

According to a SunStar Cebu report last Jan. 6, an imported modern PUV costs P2 million to P3 million or more, depending on the model, size and brand.

Commuters’ apprehension

Several netizens expressed their concerns online about potential financial hardships they may face when the minimum fare rises to P40.

A Facebook user and a mother shared the news and said, “If this happens, then we will not rent a house anymore. Let’s just sleep at work or school if that’s the case!”

Meanwhile, a college student shared the post and wrote in her caption: “This is the time when all of us will become runners. I am even struggling with the current P15 minimum now as a student. I am sure we will be in our fitness era.”

At present, the minimum fares stand at P13 for traditional jeepneys and P15 for modern jeepneys. The LTFRB approved a nationwide P1 fare provisional increase for jeepneys on Oct. 8, 2023.

LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. told SunStar Cebu that the current fare matrix is still in effect with the provisional P1 increase, which can still be repealed and revert to the original P12 and P13 minimum fare for traditional jeepneys and modern jeepneys, respectively. / KJF

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