Proposed 'fare discounts' confusing to drivers and operators, says transport group

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 17) — Transport group Manibela said the proposed "fare discounts" program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is confusing for some drivers and operators, noting that there has been no consultation on the matter.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' Traffic Center on Friday, Manibela president Mar Valbuena said the confusion stemmed from the absence of guidelines for the return to pre-pandemic fare rates which would only be implemented on selected routes of public utility vehicles (PUVs).

"Ang mahirap lang dito sa ngayon dahil hindi ito naibaba nang maayos, o 'yung announcement ay minadali din. 'Yung mga pangamba ng ating mga kasamahan dahil hindi naman 'yung tama 'yung nakakarating sa kanila na bababa na lang 'yung pamasahe at walang subsidy. 'Yung iba nakakaintindi, 'yung iba di pa alam na manggagaling ito sa 'Libreng Sakay,'" Valbuena said.

[Translation: This has become difficult because the announcement was not cascaded properly and it was rushed. The drivers were worried because what they heard was there would be reduced fares but no subsidy. Some of them understood, but some did not know that this will come from the "Libreng Sakay" program.]

Valbuena said this was not mentioned during their previous meeting with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

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Implementing the program only on selected routes will also create chaos, Manibela said.

"'Yun nga po 'yung magdudulot ng kaguluhan kung selected lang ang mga routes...Papaano po ang magiging panuntunan ng pagtatawag namin ng pasahero? Saan siya sasakay, do'n sa discounted o sa wala?" he also raised.

[Translation: If there would only be selected routes for the fare discounts, it would cause chaos. How can we call commuters to ride PUVs? Which would they choose, those who offer fare discounts or those who don't?]

Manibela called the program a "band-aid solution," adding that its budget would only cover around six months.

Earlier, transport group PISTON said the "fare discounts" program would only favor jeepney drivers who have consolidated franchises in line with the government's PUV modernization program.