Pangasinan

Pangasinan transport groups eye fare hike petition

Ahikam Pasion
Pangasinan transport groups eye fare hike petition

CRISIS. A jeepney passing through a narrow street in Dagupan City, where 150 drivers have given up operating due to high diesel prices.

Ahikam Pasion

Some 150 drivers have given up their routes, citing the double whammy from COVID-19 protocols and a staggering P10.20/liter hike in diesel costs since the start of the year

DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan – Around 150 drivers and operators in Pangasinan have suspended operations due to rising diesel costs, a leader of a 1,500-strong transport group told Rappler on Wednesday, February 16. 

Bernard Tuliao, president of the Alliance of United Transport  Organization Provincewide (AUTOPRO)-Pangasinan said different transport groups in this Ilocos Region province are discussing a petition for a fare hike to recoup losses of drivers and operators.

“We will request a P15 minimum fare,” he said. This is six pesos higher than the current P9 minimum fare.

The stoppage of operations is not yet an organizational protest for the 1,500-strong group, the transport leader explained. 

It is more a sign of desperation for some drivers who no longer want to work eight hours a day just to see their losses mount, Taliao told Rappler.

“Yung mga nag-suspend ng operation, nasa 10% ng kabuuang members ng AUTOPRO iyon”, said Tuliao.

(Those who have suspended their operations make up 10% of AUTOPRO members.)

Double whammy

With the current ‘boundary’ system, jeepney drivers have a hard time bringing home income.  

In Pangasinan, the average ‘boundary’ (daily lease) costs around P300 to 500, depending on the jeepney’s route.

However, because of the Covid-19 pandemic and rules of physical distance, a jeepney driver now takes home on average around PHP 250 to 300. 

This may still be further slashed as diesel costs are taken from the driver’s share, minus the ‘boundary’.

Since the beginning of the year, the price of petrol has risen in seven consecutive weeks, adding a staggering P10.20/liter to the price of diesel.

Other sectors, including farmers, have already complained of jacked up production costs due to fuel prices.

In Pangasinan, the average diesel cost is now close to P56.

The shortest route in Pangasinan, Calasiao town to adjacent Dagupan City, consumes 10 to 12 liters daily.

“Walang naiuuwi yung mga driver natin”, said Tuliao.

(Our drivers are no longer able to take home profit)

Technical analysts and other experts see a continuing oil rally in 2022, as demand outstrips supply.

To break even, and for drivers to take home more for their families, Tuliao said the government should allow fare hikes.

Tuliao said he fears more jeepney drivers may stop operating if fuel costs keep rising. He also said drivers have been talking about a strike, but emphasized that this would be their final resort.

“Gawin muna naming buong makakaya namin. Kapag wala na talaga, saka icoconsider yang strike”, he said.

(We will do whatever we can as of the moment. But if all else fails, then we could consider organizing a strike.) – Rappler.com

Ahikam Pasion is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.

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