Butuanons worried over planned fare increase

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/23 April) – Residents here have shown concern over the recent public hearing on the motorized tricycle operating permit (MTOP) wherein an additional one-peso fare increase was requested by local transport groups.

Several residents and commuters interviewed have expressed that the planned fare increase would only be an additional burden and would drive the public even further to hardship.

The city government of Butuan held a public hearing on the planned fare increase last week with representatives from the Butuan City Tricycle Federation (BCTF).

“Although there had been a rollback of petroleum products last week, we are not happy with it because for us, the price is still very high. The price of diesel is P50.95 per liter, P61.15 for regular gasoline and P60.10 for unleaded, the reason why the BCTF passed a petition for fare increase,” said Marino Escobido, the group’s president.

Marino admitted that a fare increase is not the solution to the problem because they also see the situation of the commuters who will suffer, but they cannot also do anything about it.

If the petition for fare increase is granted, one peso will be added to the regular fare. Current basic fare is eight pesos.

Commuter Ludivina Cassion said that at the current eight-peso fare, she is not even frequently riding the tricycle as it is already expensive. “The more will I not ride the tricycle if the petition to increase the fare is granted,” she said.

Joel Mapande, another commuter, said he is okay with the current eight-peso fare, noting that nine pesos would just be too much, especially for those taking a ride just within the city proper.

Councilor Erwin Dano said it may take time before the petition can be acted upon, adding that they still have to conduct another public hearing.

“We understand the side of the commuters who often complain that when the prices of fuel go down, the fare does not go down, too,” said Angelo Tello, chairman of the Butuan Eastbound Multicab Operators Drivers Association (BEMODA) and regional coordinator for the Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operetor Nationwide (PISTON).

He stressed that members of his group have agreed that they will only be asking for a provisional fare increase. “Anytime the price of fuel would go down, we are also ready to decrease the fare,” he vowed. (Erwin Mascariñas / MindaNews)