LTFRB finding ways to help PUV drivers amid oil price hikes

The Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Tuesday said possible minimum fare hike for public transport would be around P1.26 based on its computation.

“Based on the formula provided under the memorandum circular on [fare] increases [needed] due to rising cost of fuel, our computation year-on-year won’t be higher than P1.26,” LTFRB executive director Joel Bolano said during the Laging Handa briefing.

Public utility transport group Pasang Masda is expected to file a petition seeking a P3 hike in minimum fare, which will set it at P12 amid the series of increases in the prices of fuel.

Latest data from the Department of Energy indicate that year-to-date adjustments stand at a total net increase of P16.55 per liter for gasoline, P15.00 per liter for diesel, and P12.74 per kerosene as of October 5.

Bolano said the LTFRB needs time to study this proposal.

“We are still evaluating this given our situation, and what other steps can be done such as providing fuel subsidy just like in 2019,” he said.

“Providing for fuel subsidy was convenient since it was coursed through Landbank, even though there were drivers who did not necessarily use the subsidy for fuel,” he added.

Bolano said this can be addressed by accrediting more gas stations where PUV drivers can avail of their fuel subsidy.

At present, the LTFRB is implementing its service contracting program where the government pays for the PUV services provided for free to passengers, given that PUVs cannot operate at full capacity due to social distancing required to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

Last month, the LTFRB announced that it will release P3.3 billion worth of payout for PUV drivers under the service contracting program after much delay that lasted months.

The LTFRB released the P3.3 billion payout after the Commission on Audit revealed that the agency has been failing to utilize its budget for service contracting program amid the COVID-19 pandemic. —KBK, GMA News

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