P1 FARE HIKE FOR AIR-CON BUSES SOUGHT

Manila, Jan. 28, 2003 (Jim Bilasano, Malaya) - Air-conditioned buses vow to hike minimum fare by P1 the moment Shell or Petron increase the price of oil products.

Integrated Metro Bus Operators Association (Imboa) president Claire Dela Fuente said they would be forced to hike fare rates if the remaining two big oil firms adjust prices as well. Caltex has already adjusted its prices, pushing diesel at P15.60 per liter.

"It has reached a critical stage for public transport when diesel hits the P15 per liter mark," Dela Fuente said.

"At its present fare level and the increasing cost of oil products, it would be difficult and definitely unviable for public transport to keep operating without a fare increase," she added.

Air conditioned buses are deregulated and could increase fare rates as long as there is a seven-week notice before they implement the adjustment.

Caltex jacked up their prices by 55 centavos last Wednesday.

There are about 6,000, buses in Metro Manila, of which 80 percent are members of Imboa.

Dela Fuente said they are also set to file a petition with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for ordinary buses for a similar P1 fare hike adjustment.

She revealed that other bus operators such as the Provincial Bus Operators Association (PBOA) would also file their petitions for their regular buses.

"We are doing our best to keep our present fares in support of the call of government to keep down fares but recent developments make it unviable and difficult for us to do so," Dela Fuente said.

She also said that the transport sector is being battered not only by the oil price increase but also by the requirements of the Clean Air Act, high costs of spare parts, the proliferation of colorum operators, higher registration fees, and corrupt police enforcers.


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