The Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines (PBOAP) today vehemently denied reports of fare overcharging and clarified that they are merely implementing fare rate adjustments approved by the LTFRB in 2008.
“Our group member-companies have been operating without relief from government despite the recent fuel price surges and increases in labor and toll fee rates,” said Alex Yague, PBOAP president.
“Instead of imposing punitive measures on us, the government should instead appreciate the provincial bus operators’ consistent fulfillment of their public service function and their decision not to burden the riding public with what is justifiably a new fare rate hike increase,” Yague added.
Yague said the overall economic and operational environment now can justify the adjustment of fares given the following factors:
1. Crude oil prices that have breached the dreaded $110 per barrel price and still trending upward.
2. A wage increase for Metro Manila workers which raised the minimum pay from P382 a day to P404.
3. Toll fee increases starting January 2011 from 12% to 300%.
4. The number-coding scheme which has reduced the running fleet of bus companies entering Metro Manila by as much as 20 percent.
Still, Yague explained, the provincial bus operators have been absorbing the spiraling costs and the impact of regulatory measures instead of passing them to the riding public through increased fares.
“In short, the classic environment for a fare increase is present with the increases in both the fixed costs that are measured in inflation-setting, such as wages and toll fees, and the volatility of fuel prices. Despite these, we are not seeking a fresh round of fare adjustment,” said Yague.
Yague said the fare rates that are now being implemented by the provincial bus operators had been based on the operating conditions in 2008 and these are P1.60 per kilometer for regular air-con buses, P1.70 per kilometer for de luxe air-con buses, P1.80 per kilometer for super de luxe air-con buses and P2.25 for luxury air-con buses.
Yague pointed out that the PBOAP member-companies voluntarily reduced their fares after operating costs stabilized in 2009 and the fares they charged were lower than what were allowed under the May 2008 fare rates.
Yague said that the fare reduction made in 2009 was a voluntarily thing on the part of the PBOAP companies and done without prodding from government.
“With the current spiral in operating costs, with the current volatility of fuel prices, we have no choice but to adopt the May 2008 rates,” said Yague.
Yague said that the land transport sector is one of the few large industry groups without incentives from government. He lamented that despite being the backbone of the country’s transport system, the land transport sector is also one of the most heavily regulated in the country.
“Instead of punishing us, the national government should come to our succor and review both the incentives and regulatory structure that govern the industry,” said Yague. PBOAP