The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Monday announced a provisional 50-centavo reduction in fares for public utility jeeps (PUJ) in the Central Visayas region, bringing the minimum fare from P7.50 to P7.
It clarified though that the fare reduction, which is due to the continued decline in oil prices, covers only the first 4 kilometers in the fare matrix and does not apply to the fare computation for succeeding kilometers.
Earlier, the LTFRB reduced the PUJ fares for Metro Manila by P1 bringing the minimum fare from P8.50 to only P7.50, citing the continued decline in gas pump prices since November. It is not clear yet if the LTFRB will order another PUJ fare reduction in the coming days.
LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez said he has ordered all LTFRB regional directors in the country to conduct public hearings to determine the fare reductions in their respective localities. He added that the slump in oil prices should be felt nationwide.
However, transport groups in Baguio City registered their opposition to a fare reduction citing the topographical situation in the area. They claimed that PUJs and other modes of transportation in Baguio City consume more fuel than their counterparts elsewhere because of the steep slopes and inclines of city roads.
The group also claimed that there is no reduction in the cost of maintenance and the prices of spare parts.
Just yesterday, major oil companies in the country reduced gasoline prices by P1.70 per liter and diesel by P1.50 per liter. The Department of Energy earlier declared that gasoline prices dropped P13 in 2014 while diesel prices dropped by P15 in the past year.
In the Central Visayas reduction, petitioner Augustus Pe Jr., former councilor of Cebu City, argued that the fare should be reduced as the current fuel pump prices in the area is already comparable to the December 2008 level. He said that the gas prices back then was at P36.76 per liter and the minimum PUJ fare was P7 for the first five kilometers.
He said that since current fuel prices are already to the 2008 level, an immediate reduction in fare is necessary.
In deciding on the petition, Ginez said the LTFRB Board decided to give the immediate reduction as consumers in Central Visayas need to feel the effects of lower fuel prices. He added that not one of the representatives from transport groups, who attended the fare reduction hearing, objected to the decision.
Present during the fare reduction hearing were representatives of the Alliance of Transport Organization, Piston-Cebu, Consumers’ Rights for Economic Welfare, NCTU-Visayas, Maribago-Soong Drivers Association, and Cebu South Mini-Bus Operators Association.