Jeepney fare rolled back
MANILA, Philippines–The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) gave millions of Metro Manila commuters an early Christmas gift Thursday by cutting the minimum fare for public utility jeepneys (PUJs) by one peso effective Friday.
With the LTFRB order issued Thursday afternoon, the jeepney fare for the first 4 kilometers was reduced from P8.50 to P7.50. Succeeding kilometers will still cost P1.50.
The order for the “provisional rollback,” or temporary reduction, of the minimum fare also covers jeepneys plying routes between Metro Manila and the neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna.
In a statement, LTFRB Chair Winston Ginez explained that the board ordered the rollback “because of the continued decrease of diesel prices in the world market.”
It was the first rollback in jeepney fares in Metro Manila since May 12, 2012, when the LTFRB cut the minimum fare in the metropolis and the rest of Luzon by 50 centavos, bringing it down to P8 for the first 4 kilometers. Fares in the Visayas and Mindanao went down to P7.50 from P8 for the first 4 kilometers.
While it may have grumbled at the immediate implementation of the rollback, the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) said it nevertheless “welcomed” the fare-reduction order.
Other price cuts
Piston national president George San Mateo, in a text message to reporters, asked the government to slash as well the prices of basic commodities and utilities.
San Mateo asked that passenger and shipping rates also be lowered for other means of transportation such as trains, ships and planes “instead of the government picking on just jeepney drivers, who only make P300 to P400 per day, way below the P466 minimum wage in Metro Manila.”
Piston has 40,000 members in Metro Manila alone, San Mateo said.
Fair to cut fare
For Manila resident Cynthia Signo, mother of three, the reduced fare was only fair. “I hope that’s true, because how many times have gasoline prices dropped?” Signo said when she was informed of the fare rollback.
Signo takes the jeepney regularly to go to church or to the shopping mall. “The jeepney is the easiest and most convenient means of transportation since there are plenty of them,” she said.
Signo said saving P1 would prove helpful especially for the poor. “It helps in its own small way like for buying more pan de sal,” she said.
For Barangay (village) Sta. Cruz, Makati, resident Gian Carlo Amor, 28, even a one-peso fare reduction could prove helpful.
“It’s just P1, but if you have to take multiple [PUJs] every day, you’ll save at least two to four pesos a day,” he said.
As a real estate agent, Amor sometimes gets assigned to shopping malls in Pasay or in Parañaque cities, requiring him to take at least two jeepneys plus the bus or the train to get to and from work.
Thursday’s rollback order came as the LTFRB’s response to a petition brought by Rep. Manuel M. Iway of Negros Oriental province to reduce by 50 centavos, or from P8.50 to P8, the minimum fare for jeepneys in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon).
Iway also proposed a 10-centavo reduction in the additional fare for succeeding kilometers, or from P1.50 to P1.40.
Ginez first announced the provisional fare reduction at the second hearing on Iway’s petition Thursday morning, which was called to hear opposition to it.
Fracking, China slowdown
Large world stockpiles due to increased US production as a result of fracking and processing of shale into crude, a slowdown of manufacturing activity in China and Europe, and the refusal of oil-producing countries to cut production have led to successive falls in world oil prices in recent weeks
The price of a barrel of Dubai crude fell 37 percent from P108.51 per barrel on Dec. 6, 2013, to P68.25 on Dec. 5, 2014, data from the Department of Energy show.
Diesel down 27 percent
As a result, the average price of diesel in the Philippines is now P32.95 per liter, down from P45.25 on Jan. 3, or a decline of P12.30 per liter, or 27 percent.
During the same period, the average price of gasoline plunged from P55.5 to P43.75 per liter, or a drop of P11.75 per liter, or 21 percent.
In its statement, the LTFRB said the minimum fare for jeepneys had been dictated by the fluctuating diesel prices in the last five years.
In 2009, the price of diesel on the local market was P23 per liter. In 2011, however, the price went up to P37.75 per liter, resulting in a P1 increase in the minimum fare, bringing it to P8 from P7.
In 2012, diesel prices went up to P48 per liter, setting off a new increase of 50 centavos in the minimum fare.
But with world oil prices continuing to dip, it’s time to give commuters a break.
“A P1 reduction would be a big help in the savings of the [riding] public, especially this Christmas season,” Ginez said.
Besides Piston, other groups opposed to Iway’s petition were the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines, Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines, Land Transportation Organization of the Philippines and Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations, a copy of the four-page LTFRB order showed.
The fare rollback will take effect upon publication of the order in newspapers.
The LTFRB said it would publish the order Friday.–With a report from Inquirer Research