Rising transport costs
High transportation costs that Filipino commuters incur every day can be explained in part by his reluctance to walk in the tropical heat.
Expenses in going to and from work or school can be less if a student or worker hikes to his destination from street corners or jeepney stops.
That in turn would reduce income for the tricycle, habal-habal and trisikad drivers and operators, but where there is a will there will always be alternative sources of income.
Even if commuters scrimp on fare, they still have to contend with rising oil prices, which is the reason transport operators are demanding a new minimum PUJ fare of P9.
The era of expecting to receive loose change from a driver after handing over a P10 coin for the minimum distance is drawing to a close.
Taxi operators are also asking the government to raise the flag down rate to P50 from P40, and will likely get it if gasoline and LPG prices inch up some more.
We submit, however, that there is solid justification for keeping fare rates at their 2011 levels.
The volatile situation in the Middle East especially Syria and Iran may keep prices of imported petroleum high for now, but the organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is not expected to breach the all-time high oil prices of 2008, during which fare rates did not need to rise to the new minimum levels that transport groups seek today.
Oil prices, therefore, and consequently fare rates should not be hiked.
Current oil prices that spurred the filing of petitions for fare rate increases should serve as test cases for the fuel price review body that the Department of Energy formed.
Members of that body should investigate oil companies in the country and if necessary make them pay for excess charges that get passed on to people like the innocent schoolboy who gets a smaller share of his daily baon just because transport fares eat up a big chunk of it.
We demand transparency from public officials.
We should demand the same transparency from private firms that by the prices they set have a big say on our day-to-day living.
They cannot be allowed to hide behind such terms as confidentiality whenever they are asked to disclose, with complete documentation, how they determine the rates they charge gas and diesel retailers and ultimately ordinary consumers.