Hold fare hike, DoTr tells PUJ operators

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Understanding Jeepney drivers say they have to eat too, thus they asked commuters to bear with the P1 fare hike given them by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. AFP

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) has asked jeepney operators and drivers to hold off the charging starting Friday of the P10 minimum fare until the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issues the revised fare matrix informing passengers about the increase.

“There is an existing rule that without an updated fare matrix, one cannot charge higher fare. Office will resume on Monday. It is only by then that the LTFRB can issue the fare matrix. Once it has been issued to the operators, that is the time when the drivers can charge higher fare,” DoTr Officer-in-Charge Undersecretary for Road Transport Mark de Leon said in a statement issued late Thursday.

The LTFRB said it has prepared as early as last week the fare matrix in anticipation of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day break.

According to the Board, jeepney operators in Central Luzon have already made requests for the fare matrix, while it has yet to receive applications from the National Capital Region and Southern Luzon.

The LTFRB warned PUJ operators that if they are found charging the increased fare without the new matrix, they will be apprehended for overcharging.

The DoTr has asked the LTFRB to review the jeepney fare hikes amid the declining oil prices in the world market.

DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said that fares must be based on a predetermined matrix that will set clear guidelines when these should be increased or lowered. He directed the LTFRB to come up with a parametric formula so that fare adjustments would become automatic rather than rely on petitions.

“Ayoko ‘yung estado o situation na kung saan kapag may request for increase, meeting, discussion, deliberation. That takes time. Baka ‘pag dating ng panahon na approved na ‘yan, the situation that existed when you were asking for a fare increase is no longer there. Kaya nga, kailangan ang arrangement mo is predetermined matrix. (I don’t want a situation where if there is a request for a fare increase, there would be meetings, discussions and deliberations. That takes time. When the time comes that this is granted, the situation that existed when you were asking for a fare increase could no longer be there. That is why there is a need for an arrangement that this will be done on a predetermined matrix),” Tugade said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III said the Board will come up with a formulam wherein the fare hike is reviewed and adjusted based on the consumer price index and movement of fuel prices.

“The review also includes consultation, thus, a process. An output of the review would be a formula to determine fare,” Delgra said.

As of this writing, the benchmark Brent crude oil is trading at $72 per barrel after reaching as high as $85 per barrel early October.

The LTFRB has approved last 18 October a P2 increase in the minimum jeepney fare from P8 to P10 in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Luzon.

The petition for the jeepney fare hike was filed in September last year, citing higher fuel prices.

p: wjg

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