After deliberating on the possibility of increasing the minimum fare for public utility jeepneys (PUJs) from P9 to P15, the Land Transportation Franchise And Regulatory Board has reached a verdict. The board has rejected calls from transport groups and has decided to keep the fare at P9 despite rising fuel costs.
Gasoline and diesel prices in the Philippines have gone up by over P20 compared to the last year. This week alone, gasoline went up by P3.6/L and diesel by P5.85/L.
Yet, PUJ fares have mostly stayed put even after repeated calls from transport groups, jeepney drivers, and operators. These personalities have been among the worst hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some transport groups in February called for a provisional P1 fare increase while the LTFRB waited to decide on the P15 fare hike. The request fell on deaf ears, as the government agency rejected the call.
The turmoil could be far from over. As the conflict in eastern Europe plays out, it may not be the last we see of spiking fuel prices. Some oil experts have predicted a more severe price hike for next week. Gas could reportedly go up by over P8, while diesel could shoot up nearly P13.
While it's all speculation right now, this isn't great news for motorists, especially those in the PUJ sector battling every day amid low fares. With PUJ fares staying at P9, regular users of this mode of public transport may not feel much of the effects of rising fuel costs. Instead, it's on the drivers and operators to find ways to stay afloat to survive this crisis.
The pandemic is also not over yet, even though the nation's capital has shifted to Alert Level 1, the least strict COVID-19 protocol. It's not immediately clear what happens next for PUJ fares, but we can expect that transport groups will not be happy with the LTFRB's decision.