MANILA — Transport group Pasang Masda on Wednesday urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to schedule a hearing "at the earliest possible time" on the petition for a "surge fee" or fare surcharge during rush hours in Metro Manila.
Pasang Masda president Obet Martin cited the impact of recent fuel price hikes on the income of public utility vehicle drivers and operators.
"'Yung rush hour, talagang sobra ang traffic at malakas ang konsumo," he said in a televised public briefing.
"‘Yan (surge fee) naman ay pansamantala naming ipatutupad kung sakaling aprubahan ito ng LTFRB dahil sa halos linggo-linggong pagtaas ng petrolyo. At kung mag-normalize naman, bumalik tayo sa normal ay puwedeng mag-file kami ng petition to withdraw," Martin said.
(Traffic jams during rush hour are really heavy on oil consumption. Once approved, we will just implement the surge fee temporarily. And if oil prices normalize, we can file a petition to withdraw.)
Transport groups are asking for a surge fee of P1 for jeepneys and P2 for buses from 5 to 8 a.m. and from 4 to 8 p.m. daily, except Sundays and national holidays.
The regulatory body earlier said it might no longer approve any additional fare hike this year.
Martin said the surcharge petition does not seek a fare increase.
"Ito ay hindi fare increase. Para lang ito ay karagdagang tulong. Dahil mayroon tayong window hour na sinusunod. Hindi naman the whole day we will implement," he said.
"Oras lamang po, kung saan lang malakas ang konsumo ng diesel ng ating mga pampublikong sasakyan… Bale 8 oras lang sa loob ng isang araw kung kailan ma-traffic lamang."
(This is not a fare increase. This is just meant to serve as additional help. It will not be implemented the entire day; we will follow a window period. The surge fee will cover only 8 hours per day, when traffic gets heavy.)
But some transport groups said the surcharge might cause confusion among passengers and overburden them following recent fare hikes.
Martin said he respects the opinion of transport groups that disagree with the petition. But he also appealed for public understanding, saying that the recent fare hikes were not enough to cushion the impact of high oil prices, elevated inflation, and rush hour congestion in the cities.
If the LTFRB rejects the plea for a surge fee, Pasang Masda plans to communicate with the Department of Transportation to discuss other options to help drivers, including fuel subsidies and service contracting.