Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Jeepney fares cut OK’d

Operators to collect new fares on Monday
50-centavo fare cut to begin on Monday – LTFRB

By Genalyn D. Kabiling
The Manila Bulletin

The riding public will enjoy a 50-centavo reduction in minimum fare of jeepneys plying Metro Manila roads starting next week.

Jeepney operators and drivers yesterday agreed to lower the minimum fare from P7.50 to P7 for the first four kilometers in a "post-Valentine’s gift" to ease the burden of the public.

The provisional 50-centavo fare reduction in Metro Manila jeepneys was reached during a meeting between President Arroyo and several officials of public transport groups in Malacañang.

"We will reduce the minimum fare by 50 centavos. Even though Valentine’s is through, this is our gift to the public," Zenaida Maranan, president of the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Associations of the Philippines (FEJODAP), said in a news conference in the Palace.

Maranan said they decided to deliver the "good news" to the public, on the eve of the hearing on fare adjustments by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Newly appointed LTFRB Chairman Alberto Suansing said they will fast track the petition for provisional fare reductions so it could be implemented by February 23, Monday.

Suansing added that President Arroyo was "very jubilant" over the fare cuts offered by jeepney groups in Metro Manila.

Efren de Luna, president of the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO), said this will be the third fare rollback implemented by transport groups amid plummeting prices of diesel.

In case fuel prices would rise anew, De Luna admitted that they would have to take back the fare reductions.

Other groups that will implement the fare reductions are Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines and United Transport Koalisyon (1-UTAK).

Apart from the jeepney fare cuts, Suansing said the LTFRB will also tackle proposals to reduce fares in buses in Metro Manila and the provinces in Wednesday’s public hearing.

During the Cabinet meeting in the Palace, Suansing said they have convinced public transport groups to devise a "parametric formula" to prevent arbitrary setting of fares. Among the factors of the proposed formula will be labor costs, spare parts, petroleum prices, and location.

"We will come up with a parametric formula so that whenever a component of that formula increases or decreases, the fare can easily be adjusted reflective of the situation," he said.

Suansing added that authorities must take into consideration the situation of the different regions where prices of oil products vary.

He said the transportation department will also accelerate its campaign against colorum vehicles and "kotong" cops, often blamed for reducing the income of public transport drivers and operators.

Lawyer Vigor Mendoza, 1-UTAK chairman, meantime said they don’t support the scrapping of the oil deregulation law, saying "we have to work together to make the law work."

Mendoza said the public transport group is actually planning to set up refueling stations to help bring down transport fares. "Kakayanin na yan dahil the environment for competition is there," he said.

Malacanang earlier endorsed a review of the oil deregulation law to provide better protection to the public amid fluctuating prices of petroleum products in the world market.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the President’s economic team will handle the review and make the necessary recommendations to strengthen the supervision powers of the Department of Energy over oil firms.

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