Fuel subsidy and fare rate hikes
With the scheduled issuance of cash cards for passenger jeepney operators in Cebu this month under the government’s Pantawid Pasada program — if they haven’t received them yet as of this writing — one has to ask if they will still lobby for a fare rate increase.
We hope not since it would be doubly unfair to charge extra fare rates on passengers who still ride jeepneys to work and school and yet subsidize through their taxes the fuel subsidy program conceived by this administration supposedly to cushion the effects of the fuel price increase caused by the Train law.
Last time we checked, transport groups in Lapu-Lapu City including a number of jeepney operators pushed for a flat P12 fare rate on the rationale that rising fuel prices and maintenance costs had made it prohibitive for them to sustain their chief source of income.
Of the 12,000 jeepney operators in Central Visayas, about 11,000 are operating in Cebu and with the program starting past midway of this year, a P5,000 lump sum will be issued to each operator who were called on by government to entrust the cash card to their drivers.
To be fair, these cards are programmed in such a way that they will be used for their intended purpose i.e., to shoulder the fuel costs of operators. The card contains the PUJ plate number which should match the operator’s unit, hence it cannot be used for any other vehicle owned by the operator.
It has yet to be known if the cash cards will be issued to operators with more than one unit. In this regard, transport groups in Cebu can perhaps shed light on who among their members will get the most cash aid from the government if they can be bothered to do so.
It would also help if they can help police their ranks to ensure that the fuel subsidy won’t be misused by their members or their drivers to the detriment of the riding public whose taxes are funding this program.
Not a few would object to the program for reasons they should validate to the commuters, including the excuse that it’s not enough for them to cover costs, but it is hoped that the fuel subsidy would dampen any moves for petitions for fare rate increases.
That would certainly be up to the transport groups to decide and for the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to deliberate on since they have pending fare rate increase petitions in their office that were filed long before this fuel subsidy program came into effect.
At any rate, the riding public now has a valid argument to raise against fuel price increases and both government and jeepney operators are hard pressed not to pay heed to their collective sentiment should there be any fare rate increase petitions filed now or in the future.
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