By Leonel Abasola

SAFE RIDE. A modern jeepney plying the Roces-Cubao route in Quezon City. Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista on Thursday (Jan. 4, 2024) belied the claim of a commuters’ group that the minimum fare for modern jeepneys would increase to PHP50 after the implementation of the public utility vehicle modernization program. (PNA photo by Joey Razon)

MANILA – Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista has belied the claim of a commuters’ group that the minimum fare for modern jeepneys would increase to PHP50 after the implementation of the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

In a statement on Thursday, Bautista explained that the primary consideration for any fare increase in public transport is the cost of fuel.

“We strongly believe there is no basis on the alleged PHP50 minimum fare,” he said.

Fare increase petitions are subject to the en banc deliberation of the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), he added.

“It will also require NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) opinion as to the inflationary effect of any increase, as well as giving due consideration to affordability of the commuting public,” Bautista said.

In a television interview, commuters group PARA-Advocates for Inclusive Transport said the PUV modernization program comes with a financial burden for jeepney operators and drivers.

It said the basis for the fare increase would be for operators to pay for the loans, apart from earning a living.

The current minimum fare is PHP13 for traditional jeepneys and PHP15 for modern jeepneys.

In 2017 when the PUV modernization program began, the minimum fare was PHP9 for traditional jeepneys and PHP11 for modern jeepneys.

“This showed that LTFRB has always balanced the need of drivers against commuters when fuel price increase happens,” Bautista said.

Under the modernization program, the consolidation deadline for jeepney operators and drivers – the first phase of the program – was on Dec. 31, 2023.

Jeepney operators and drivers who failed to join the PUV modernization program will be allowed to operate beyond the Dec. 31 consolidation deadline but only in routes that have few consolidated units. (PNA)