Unavoidable fare rate hike

By STEPHEN CAPILLAS |February 08,2018 - 11:24 PM

CAPILLAS

With fuel prices in the country on the rise regardless of the oil price fluctuations in the global market — and it may even worsen depending on world fuel prices — due to the government’s controversial Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) program, transport groups in Cebu are definitely going to pursue a fare rate increase and commuters should brace themselves for it.

The Cebu Integrated Transport Service Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Citrasco), considered among the biggest transport coops in Cebu is scheduled to file a P3.50 fare increase petition at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) sometime today, which is two pesos and 50 centavos lower than the previous P6 fare rate hike they targeted early last month.

On the surface it looked like an act of grace on Citrasco’s part, a commiseration with the plight of the riding public and it may draw some favorable sentiment from some commuters.

It would have been better if they went for a flat P3 fare rate increase petition than tamp in an additional 50 centavos since commuters would have to pay P4 and jeepney drivers and dispatchers would hardly be expected to give a 50 centavo change since they don’t usually carry 50 centavos around.

So in essence the commuters in Cebu would pay P4 rather than the P6 Citrasco sought on top of the existing P6.50 being charged to them today — rounding that P6.50 to P7 since again, the burden of providing 50 centavos falls squarely on the commuters, not on the operators and drivers — and the jeepney drivers and operators would end up with P11 or just P1 shy of their original P12 fare rate demand.

It’s just their roundabout way of saying “okay we’ll give you a break but we need cash” and I don’t know if Metro Cebu’s commuters would see it that way.

They already have enough to worry about balancing their budgets in the wake of the TRAIN effectivity.

They may probably wait for the LTFRB public hearing on the fare rate petition to evaluate and ventilate their sentiments on the issue which usually reads “No” to any fare rate increase.

But frankly, it would be unrealistic to expect that.
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That said, would commuters be forever stuck with paying higher fare rates and still riding the same dilapidated, aging jeepneys that they’ve endured for years on end?

If there would be a fare rate increase, commuters at least deserve to ride in something a lot more comfortable and convenient and the jeepney modernization program being espoused by the national government looks to be at least months away.

And should it arrive, would the operators charge more to cover their costs? What about the so-called fuel subsidy supposedly being promised by the government for the jeepney operators in order to avoid increasing fare rates? If they do get it, wouldn’t it be unfair to burden the commuters with an additional fare increase?

Again, it would take sometime before the LTFRB decides on the fare rate petition but this early the commuters know there is no way they can escape the inevitable anywhere in Metro Cebu.

Unless the government would agree to a militant transport group’s demand to remove the tax on fuel prices, the fare rate hike petitions won’t go away anytime soon.
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This corner joins everyone in Cebu Daily News in celebrating the paper’s 20th year of existence as one of several media outlets operating in Cebu which is no mean feat in itself.

Having witnessed how the paper survived and thrived through a gauntlet of challenges that it and other news outlets in Cebu faced in the second of two decades, the fact that it remains strong and solid gives everyone within the publication something to be proud of.

Cebu Daily News came into the local mainstream media industry near the end of the 20th century and as it entered the second decade of the 21st century one can only expect it to stay at the forefront of delivering news, views and issues that are of relevance to Cebu and beyond.

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