LTFRB hears bus fare hike petitions

Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2022 07:11 PM

Commuters queue ABS-CBN News file photo
Commuters queue to ride the EDSA Bus Carousel, which has been offering free rides. ABS-CBN News file photo

MANILA — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Thursday heard the petition of bus groups to increase fares.

The hearing lasted only half an hour as the board said it would release a decision next week or before the school opened on August 22. 

The regulatory body is waiting for the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) before it comes up with a resolution on the fare hike plea.

“Sinabihan kami ng NEDA na 7 days from yesterday, they will submit their position paper para hindi na tayo magtagal at di na magkaroon ng hearing pa… We need the position on the NEDA. LTFRB doesn’t want to add to inflation we need the guidance of the NEDA,” LTFRB Chairperson Cheloy Garafil said.

Transport cost was one of the top drivers of the accelerated inflation in July, when it grew to 6.4 percent. Transport posted an inflation rate of 18.1 percent.

Since October 2018, city bus operators have been charging P11 for the first 5 kilometers and P1.85 for succeeding kilometers for ordinary buses, while aircon buses have charged a minimum fare of P13 and P2.20 for succeeding kilometers.

They want this raised by at least P4 to P15 and P2.70 for succeeding kilometers for ordinary buses, while also petitioning for the minimum fare of aircon buses to be raised by P7 to P20, with an additional P3.40 per succeeding kilometer.

Provincial buses are also asking to raise the minimum fare from P9 to P15 and the succeeding kilometer rate from P1.55 to P2.

Operators are also asking for fares of airconditioned provincial buses to be raised to P2.50 per kilometer for regular, P2.60/km for deluxe, P2.70/km for superdeluxe, P3.60/km for luxury, from the current rates of P1.75/km, P1.85/km, P1.95/km and P2.40/km, respectively.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has expressed openness to granting the petition of bus operators for a fare increase.

But the amount has yet to be determined, as the LTFRB wants to balance the interest of bus operators and the impact of the fare increase on commuters’ spending power.

“The diesel then (in 2018) is just 40 pesos. We recognize there is a need for an increase at talagang magkakaroon siya ng impact… Kaya nga babalansehin po natin we cannot just side with one party, we have to balance din.” Garafil said.

Garafil said the board recognizes operators’ concerns that they cannot deploy all of their units due to the high price of fuel.

The low supply of public utility buses leads to commuters’ difficulty in getting a ride, especially during rush hour.

Provincial and city buses said only 50 to 75 percent of their total units are operational because of high operating costs. Drivers and conductors have left to find other better-paying jobs. 

Their bus units were damaged because they remained unused for over two years. Operators said a fare hike would help operators keep the business afloat.

LTFRB is set to meet again with the bus operators next week to discuss bus rationalization. The regulatory body targets to release a memorandum on new routes, specifically near and around the university belt, before school starts.

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