Representatives from tricycle driver and operator groups, as well as the commuting public, attend the public hearing in city councilors' session hall.

The City Council’s committee on transportation met with representatives from the transport sector, particularly tricycle drives association and the riding public in an effort to reach a win-win solution regarding minimum fare in the city amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Transportation committee chair councilor Peter Q. Maristela said they hope to reach an agreement by the end of April and be able to craft a new ordinance on a new base fare for tricycles in the city  as well as rules for drivers who charge passengers more than the base fare.

“Natutuwa kami dahil maraming pumunta dito sa public hearing galing sa iba’t-ibang sektor. Maganda naman ang naging kinalabasan. Tinitimbang kasi natin kung dapat bang itaas, kung magkano dapat itaas [ang base fare],” he added.

The public hearing was set after an ordinance authored by Maristela in late February brought back the P10 base fare for the first two kilometers and an additional P1.50 per kilometer rate was met with protest by tricycle drivers and operators. Many complained that it would be impossible to meet their boundaries, given that there are no students who travel to school daily, no tourists, and generally less commuters because of the global pandemic.

Efnie Lusoc, president of the Federation of Tricycle Operators and Drivers’ Association in Puerto Princesa City, Inc. (FTODAPPCI), was the one who wrote to the City Tricycle Regulatory and Franchising Board (CTFRB) to raise the P10 base fare. Lusoc explained during the hearing that rising fuel prices add to tricycle drivers’ woes. The tricycle ban along national highways imposed in November 2020 also drove away everyday passengers because of the hassle of passing through new routes and riding more than one tricycle.

“Marami na talagang nagpapahirap sa mga driver ngayon. Ang fuel, mataas na masyado. Ang pagkain, ganoon din. May mga lumalapit kasi sa akin na mga driver, gusto nga mas mataas pa sa P12. Kaso ang sabi ko, baka wala na tayong maging pasahero niyan,” said Lusoc.

Meanwhile, the commuting public met the proposal with positivity as no one objected to the fare increase, but cautioned tricycle drivers who charge above the imposed fare base. Thus, Maristela’s proposed ordinance to enact penalties for erring drivers, was also discussed during the hearing.

“Pinag-usapan kanina ‘yong paano kapag hindi pa nakakabayad ang pasahero, overcharging na ba ‘yon? ‘Yong hindi pa nakakasakay ang pasahero, dinidiktahan mo kung magkano ang pasahe para pasakayin mo siya? O ito ay refusal to convey passenger pa? Kaya pag-aaralan pa nang husto ng committee,” said Maristela.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.