Friday, May 4, 2018

Fair hike

AS PRICES of basic commodities continually increase, courtesy of the TRAIN law, local tricycle operators and drivers have petitioned the Laoag Sangguniang Panlungsod for a PHP2 fare hike.

Though this seems fair in the face of rising fuel prices, the city government needs to put a measure to crackdown on rogue tricycle drivers who prey on the riding public for it to become genuinely fair.

It has become the norm rather than the exception for tricycle drivers to ask for additional fare when they ferry a lone passenger; some ask for a nominal addition while others ask a lone passenger to double their fare. The local fare law has specified the additional amount for fare for every kilometer after the first kilometer, but drivers ask for payment that is above and beyond the legal rates. According to the local law this was supposed to be illegal; yet they do happen anyways.

Though the passenger may have a way to fight back by reporting the abusive tricycle drivers, the penalty for their illegal acts do not seem to deter them, as most of them continue with this scheme. This only proves that the local law’s safeguards that should protect the riding public from abusive tricycle drivers is flawed. Broken even.

As the city’s riding public faces another fare hike, city officials who are supposed to protect everyone’s rights should do more to make whatever law they will craft work for all—the tricycle operators and drivers, and the riding public.

The most basic that they can do is to put up a distance matrix from one landmark to another, like what other cities did. This will make the real prescribed rate clearer to both driver and passenger. It specifies the distance traveled and the fare amount.

Laoag officials should also give stiffer penalties to drivers that refuse to ferry a single passenger. Or to those who become rude when passengers rebuff the exorbitant fares drivers ask for.

A fare increase right now will cut both ways—it would help the operators and drivers but would also hurt the riding public. And with the current situation, abuses will continue and the real fare hike will simply become more than double than what the council decides on.

It may take more patience, more research and more work to make this right. But the people of Laoag elected their councilors in the expectation that they will serve us all.

And not just a select group.

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