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TALK STIR: LTFRB Approves Jeepney, Bus Fare Hikes, But is it Righteous?

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) recently gave Filipino commuters a double whammy by approving the fare hikes for both public utility jeepneys (PUJs) and buses (PUBs) on the same day, October 18.

The jeepney fare hike for the National Capital Region and Regions 3 and 4 under Case No. 2017-3978 was the first one to be announced to the public, raising the fare from PHP8 to PHP10 for the first four kilometers, with the effectivity of the fare hike taking place “15 days after publication in a newspaper of general and/or local circulation”–as if that stopped nefarious jeepney drivers from demanding its passengers to pay the new fare the day after the news breaks out.

Also, you might be confused right now and asking yourself that the current fare prior to the newly-approved fare hike is PHP9 and not PHP8 as stated. Well, that’s because the PHP1 fare hike granted on July 6–which increased the fare from PHP8 to PHP9–was merely provisional. To bring the minimum fare to PHP10, the LTFRB made permanent the provisional PHP1 increase it granted on July 6 as well as added an additional PHP1 increase to the fare with the aforementioned case number.

While we bemoan the new, more expensive fare, let’s consider ourselves lucky that the LTFRB didn’t give in to all the demands of the jeepney operators, which was to raise the fare from PHP8 to PHP12 for the first four kilometers on top of an additional PHP1 for every succeeding kilometer. 

Later in the day, hours after the LTFRB revealed the fare hike for PUJs, the agency announced that it has also approved a provisional fare increase for PUBs under Case No. 2018-0761.

For buses operating within Metro Manila, the fare for the first five kilometers of regular or non-airconditioned buses has increased from PHP10 to PHP11 while for air-conditioned buses, the fare for the same distance has gone up from PHP12 to PHP13. The fare for every succeeding kilometer remains the same though: PHP1.85 for regular buses and PHP2.20 for air-conditioned buses.

For provincial buses though, the rates are as follows: PHP9 for the first five kilometers for a regular/non-airconditioned bus–no increase, effectively–though the every succeeding kilometer fare has increased from PHP1.40 to PHP1.55; from PHP1.60 to PHP1.75 per kilometer for a regular aircon bus; from PHP1.70 to PHP1.85 per kilometer for a deluxe aircon bus; from PHP1.80 to PHP1.95 per kilometer for a super deluxe aircon bus; and from PHP2.25 to PHP2.40 per kilometer for a luxury action bus.

Similar to the implementation of the PUJs fare hike, the provisional increase for PUBs “shall be effective 15 days after publication in a newspaper of general and/or local circulation.”

However, in what has seemingly become normal within the LTFRB, the board passed the fare hike for PUJs despite board member Atty. Aileen Lizada‘s note in the case that she has a dissenting opinion of it.

According to a memorandum filed by Lizada, she urged fellow board members LTFRB Chairman Atty. Martin B. Delgra III and Engr. Ronaldo F. Corpus to wait for the decision of the Philippine National Oil Company Exploration Corporation (PNOC EC) on its planned importation of 50,000 metric tons or 59 million liters of diesel which will lessen the price of diesel from PHP5.00–PHP6.00 per liter” since it will allow the board to comply with the National Economic Development Authority’s (NEDA) alternative fare hike scenario and the government’s Pantawid Pasada financial assistance program. Furthermore, Lizada noted that in consultation with NEDA, a 50-centavo increase to raise the fare from the provisional PHP9 to PHP9.50 instead of to PHP10 is more tolerable for minimum-wage earners.

The LTFRB, however, decided to push through with the fare hike despite only meeting once following its receipt of NEDA’s advisory on the fare hike. As it so happens, Lizada wasn’t available when that one meeting was held and though she asked if it could be held on a different date as she had a prior engagement then, her request was declined.

“The haste in arriving at a decision with only one board meeting, by a majority of the board, after receipt of the said guidance (from NEDA) does not bode well for the 4,000,000 million riders of the PUJ, and eventually the drivers themselves. We owe them a more judicious and thorough  discussion and we need to trust other government agencies that they are doing their best to address the situation,” Lizada said in closing her memorandum to her fellow board members. “In view of the above, I respectfully dissent from the majority opinion.”

So, what’s your take on the new jeepney fare? Does the 50-centavo difference between NEDA’s suggested PHP9.50 fare or the LTFRB’s approved PHP10 matter? Or is 50 centavos so insignificant these days that the difference doesn’t matter to you?

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