Editorial: Compassion for community and the fare hike

www.nordis.net

More or less than fifty years ago, it was normal for pupils to walk from home to school and back everyday, rain or shine. In some districts there used to be only three public utility jeeps. The jeeps then can only seat eight adult passengers at a time and fare was around five to ten centavos each. Child passengers are free but have to stand up and hold on the hand bars behind the driver or on the ceiling of the jeepney. But for most kids, it was more fun to walk to and from school and save the fare money for more sweets from the school canteen.

One could think that the city should have improved from that economic situation half a century ago but it actually did not. Instead the costs of living became more and more expensive, higher than the average citizen could afford without giving up other basic needs. People should be grateful for our jeepney drivers and operators in Baguio, Benguet, who in the tight economic situation we all are in today, they still remembered to consider that most of their clients/passengers are in the same imposed economic crunch as they are in when they defended their petition for an increase in local jeepney fares.

Last Tuesday, local public utility vehicle drivers who had petitioned for a fare hike had a hearing with the local Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB). The drivers and small operators believed it is overdue that they be allowed a fare hike.

The last fare increase granted was in 2011, while the purchasing power of the peso consistently weakened. The cost of fuel has also consistently climbed, and in the Cordillera petrol is 15% incrementally higher than Manila, so are spare parts, maintenance and the cost of living. On top all of these is the cost of the imposed government PUV modernization program which makes it close to impossible for local drivers and operators to live off their (if any) measly profit. They also raised that the Special Fare Rates for the Cordillera agreed on a while back, should now be institutionalized. This means fares in Cordillera and Baguio will be higher than in the lowland metropolises.

Among them were those who believe that the complete cost of their loss of a subsistence profit is not the fault of the simple commuter. An increase in the present cost of fares is welcomed by all drivers/operators, it is much needed but they also recognize that the amount they are asking for may be too stringent for the majority of paying passengers.

They pointed out that minimum wage in the Cordillera is P270-300 while it is P512 in Metro Manila. Why should commuters here be charged higher? Is it right that ordinary commuters and driver/operators be pitted against each other because of fare increase? We, all poor Filipinos need an income increase just to live.

One driver/operator suggested to this fare-hike dilemma that all transport groups unite under one call for government and petroleum companies to negotiate a deal to increase the diesel discount from P1.50/liter to P4-5/liter. For even “With these discounts, the companies will not lose much … because this is nothing compared to the net profit they get everyday.”

All commuters especially public transport passengers, at the least can be grateful for this compassionate gesture for others in the community. In return, it would be much more productive to support our jeepney drivers and small operators negotiate for that more substantial fuel price discount. As well as it is worthy to support the workers’ call for an increase in the minimum wage. Write your congressman or the local Department of Transportation (DOTr), demand for that deserved fuel discount and over due increase in wages, Now. #

More or less than fifty years ago, it was normal for pupils to walk from home to school and back everyday, rain or shine. In some districts there used to be only three public utility jeeps. The jeeps then can only seat eight adult passengers at a time and fare was around five to ten centavos each. Child passengers are free but have to stand up and hold on the hand bars behind the driver or on the ceiling of the jeepney. But for most kids, it was more fun to walk to and from school and save the fare money for more sweets from the school canteen.

One could think that the city should have improved from that economic situation half a century ago but it actually did not. Instead the costs of living became more and more expensive, higher than the average citizen could afford without giving up other basic needs. People should be grateful for our jeepney drivers and operators in Baguio, Benguet, who in the tight economic situation we all are in today, they still remembered to consider that most of their clients/passengers are in the same imposed economic crunch as they are in when they defended their petition for an increase in local jeepney fares.

Last Tuesday, local public utility vehicle drivers who had petitioned for a fare hike had a hearing with the local Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB). The drivers and small operators believed it is overdue that they be allowed a fare hike.

The last fare increase granted was in 2011, while the purchasing power of the peso consistently weakened. The cost of fuel has also consistently climbed, and in the Cordillera petrol is 15% incrementally higher than Manila, so are spare parts, maintenance and the cost of living. On top all of these is the cost of the imposed government PUV modernization program which makes it close to impossible for local drivers and operators to live off their (if any) measly profit. They also raised that the Special Fare Rates for the Cordillera agreed on a while back, should now be institutionalized. This means fares in Cordillera and Baguio will be higher than in the lowland metropolises.

Among them were those who believe that the complete cost of their loss of a subsistence profit is not the fault of the simple commuter. An increase in the present cost of fares is welcomed by all drivers/operators, it is much needed but they also recognize that the amount they are asking for may be too stringent for the majority of paying passengers.

They pointed out that minimum wage in the Cordillera is P270-300 while it is P512 in Metro Manila. Why should commuters here be charged higher? Is it right that ordinary commuters and driver/operators be pitted against each other because of fare increase? We, all poor Filipinos need an income increase just to live.

One driver/operator suggested to this fare-hike dilemma that all transport groups unite under one call for government and petroleum companies to negotiate a deal to increase the diesel discount from P1.50/liter to P4-5/liter. For even “With these discounts, the companies will not lose much … because this is nothing compared to the net profit they get everyday.”

All commuters especially public transport passengers, at the least can be grateful for this compassionate gesture for others in the community. In return, it would be much more productive to support our jeepney drivers and small operators negotiate for that more substantial fuel price discount. As well as it is worthy to support the workers’ call for an increase in the minimum wage. Write your congressman or the local Department of Transportation (DOTr), demand for that deserved fuel discount and over due increase in wages, Now. # nordis.net

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