Cabaero: Fare hike as a solution or not

It used to be a series of ups and downs but, lately, it’s all going up. That, dear commuters and vehicle owners, is about fuel prices.One of the responses of the government to this upward movement in diesel, gasoline and kerosene prices was to increase jeepney fare. Although a fare hike might appear to help the public cope with fuel price increases, it will not result in any change.The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) approved a P1 provisional hike in minimum fare for public utility jeepneys (PUJ) that took effect on June 9, 2022, in Metro Manila and two Luzon regions. This places the minimum fare at P10, from the old rate of P9.No similar order was made to cover Metro Cebu. But in Cebu where the minimum jeepney fare is P9 and in Metro Manila when the old fare was in place, most commuters ended up paying a minimum fare of P10. Either the drivers did not bother to give the P1 back or the commuters did not mind giving the P1 even without the LTFRB order.That is why a P1 minimum jeepney fare increase will not impact on the earnings of jeepney drivers or the pockets of commuters.The increases in diesel and gasoline prices will continue this week. Reports said the price of diesel will go up by P4.25-P4.50 per liter; gasoline, P1.50-P1.75; and kerosene, P4.75-P5.Just last June 7, diesel costs went up P6.55 per liter; gasoline, P2.70; kerosene, P2.45. According to the Department of Energy, these price movements resulted in year-to-date adjustments of a net increase of P36.85 per liter for diesel, P26.55 for gasoline, and P33.10 for kerosene. Energy officials blamed the Russia-Ukraine crisis for disrupting the global supply chain and raising prices of fuel products.The government’s response was to set aside P6.1 billion for targeted subsidies. Officials reported that, as of last June 1, over 180,000 public utility vehicle drivers and operators had received their P6,500 fuel subsidy under the Pantawid Pasada program. The more than 158,000 farmers and fisherfolk will also receive P3,000 as fuel discounts.Added to those measures was the raising of the minimum jeepney fare. Based on what’s happening on the road, a P1 increase in fare to the current rate of P9 will have little or no effect as commuters are already paying a minimum of P10 even in areas without a fare hike order of the LTFRB.What jeepney drivers and operators are asking is for a fare increase of P5 or raising the current P9 to P14. That’s a solution that might work for the public transport sector but will be unpopular to the riding public who already are struggling with rising prices.The alternative is to mitigate the effects of the rising costs on the public through means other than a fare hike.