Sunday, May 27, 2018

Fair hike: Once more with ‘open’ feelings

As the debate rages on the proposed tricycle fare rates increase, the riding public now wants more involvement—both in the deliberations and public hearings.

An open letter has made its rounds at the Sangguniang Panlungsod. It chastises the proposed PHP15 and PHP2 per kilometer after the first kilometer. It also drives home the point the city’s public transportation system state as broken.

From overcharging to refused conveyance; over-speeding and cramped tricycle designs; up to tricycle franchise issues; and down to the inefficient, inexact and basically inexistent distance rate; the open letter points out all that is wrong with the city’s public transportation system. And how our local officials are essentially winging it when it comes to managing public transportation.

The letter also points out that when the city government raised basic fare rate to PHP11 from PHP8 in 2011, gasoline prices then averaged PHP59.39 per liter. During the first quarter of this year, gasoline prices averaged PHP55.26—and yet tricycle operators and drivers want an even higher PHP4 basic fare hike and another PHP1 hike for succeeding kilometers after the first kilometer.

The letter, however, does not mention that in the past, the basic fare rates cover the first three or two kilometers; and yet the proposed rate now only covers the first kilometer.

On top of this, the city government should now also decide whether to base the fare rates on distance or number of passengers. Unfortunately for everyone concerned, no one seems to notice that public transport operators cannot have it both ways as this is very detrimental to the riding public.

In their proposed rate, a single passenger will pay PHP15 for the first kilometer, while two passengers pay PHP30, and the multiplier effect goes on as the number of passengers increase. And if they travel farther, they suffer an additional PHP2 per kilometer; and the passenger multiplier effect still applies. Will those decision-makers factor this in? Or will they become too busy doing something else that they will treat this issue with shallowness instead of thoroughness and serious research?

If lawmakers can only see what is in front of them and do not understand all the effects of what they are drafting, then they are simply trying to wing it—at the expense of a constituent they vowed to serve.

The proposed fare rate increase is not a simple issue. We all know that. But we can only hope that those tasked to make the decisions know this too. The open letter put it succinctly that this issue not only concerns the tricycle operators and drivers but more so, the riding public—as they will have to shoulder the additional financial burden.

And whether they admit it or not—they like it or not—these officials are in the hot seat; and the public will see a glimpse of their true worth soon enough.

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