Christina Erbon and Audrei Jeremy Mendador

Amidst petitions and in response to the "unusual" diesel price hikes over the past 10 weeks, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), led by Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III, hinted at the likelihood of approving petitions for a jeepney fare hike by year-end.

Photo Courtesy of LTFRB/Jesse Bustos/STAR

Pasang Masda, the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations, and the Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines have collectively advocated for a ₱5 increase in the minimum fare, including a ₱1 provisional increase.

The LTFRB acknowledges the pressing need for a fare increase. However, Guadiz stressed the significance of a balanced approach that carefully weighs the potential repercussions on operators, drivers, and passengers alike.

“We know the necessity of fare increase. However, ‘yan ay binabalanse rin ho namin sa pangangailangan ng buong bansa,” he emphasized. 

Nonetheless, Guadiz assured that they are committed to exploring the possibility of a fare hike but requested some time “to determine how much and when will be the appropriate time to impose the fare hike.” 

Calls of commuters

The looming jeepney fare increase faced opposition from the commuter group The Passenger Forum.

Primo Morillo, Convener of The Passenger Forum, expressed concern about the rising costs of both essential goods and transportation while highlighting the minimal impact of the recent ₱40 salary hikes for workers in Metro Manila. 

“Nahihirapan ang bawat pamilya na i-budget ang kanilang pera sa pagkain dahil nagtataasan lahat tapos isasabay pa natin yung pamasahe. Nakakatakot po iyan. Ibig sabihin, lalo nating pahihirapan yung ating mga kababayan,” Morillo said.

The group further called on the LTFRB to heed the concerns of the commuting public and hoped for more inclusivity in the decision-making process regarding fare hikes.

“Ang mga commuter groups naiintindihan din yung tsuper at mga operator pero yung konsultasyon pagdating doon sa mga commuter groups ay mas kaunti, mas hindi madalas, kesa sa konsultasyon sa drivers and operators,” Morillo added.

Fare hike vs the economy

With regard to the potential impact of the fare increase on the economy, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan emphasized the importance of an economic evaluation by the government to ensure minimal adverse effects on the country's economic growth momentum. 

Balasican expressed willingness to consider the transportation organizations' petition for a ₱5 fare increase for the initial four kilometers and an additional ₱1 for each subsequent kilometer. However, he underscored the need for comprehensive data.

“We will need more information, but definitely in most instances and practically or actually all instances concerning requests like this, the view of NEDA is sought," Balasican explained. 

The LTFRB has yet to decide on the date and appropriate rate increase for jeepneys on September 26.

Edited by Andreah Dianne M. Cartagena