Tricycle drivers groaning under the series of fuel price hikes are waiting for the Virac municipal government to at least raise the minimum fare in the downtown area to P20 for one passenger from the present P15.
If two passengers ride the same tricycle for destinations within downtown Virac, the fare would be P15 each.
This was reportedly the arrangement forged by officials of the various Tricycle Operators and Drivers and Associations (TODAs) who met with Mayor Sinforoso Sarmiento Jr., Vice Mayor Arlynn Arcilla and three members of the Sangguniang Bayan at the Liga ng mga Barangay Hall last week.
According to Lyn Molina, present of the Federation of Virac TODAs, their members, especially those working under the “boundary system”, have been hard-hit by the series of increases in the price of gasoline.
Under this system, the driver “rents” tricycle from the owner or operator, who is paid the “boundary” of about P150 for 10 hours of use.
What the driver takes home to his family is the amount left over from the fares earned during the “pasada”, minus the “boundary” and the cost of gasoline.
“Ang iba po halos dai nang maiparibod sa familia ta kulang man an pasahero, an iba ngani dai na gakayod ta mas ginusto ninda na mag-construction na sana,” the FedVITODA official disclosed.
She said that when the pump price of gasoline went past P70 per liter, the federation wrote to Mayor Sarmiento asking for a dialogue regarding the problem faced by the transport sector.
Last week’s meeting led to the agreement that overall the minimum fare would not be increased but only within Virac downtown where the fare would be hiked by P5, back to the pandemic quarantine level.
Molina admitted that it would be difficult to bring back the pre-pandemic fares due to lack of passengers especially since full face-to-face classes have yet to be implemented.
She likewise pointed out that many members of the public still prefer to ride tricycles alone, rather than share the seat with another passenger, despite the fact that the Alert Level 1 guidelines now allow full capacity in public transport, including tricycles.
The federation also cited as a continuing problem the presence of colorum or unregistered tricycles plying their routes.
It also said that many people nowadays have their own service vehicles, especially motorcycles, while those who are residing in far-flung barangays only go downtown if they have an urgent need to do so.
Molina bared that their group proposed the possibility of a fuel subsidy for the transport sector but this was thumbed down by the chief executive and the municipal council, who prefer food and cash assistance.
The federation impressed the urgency of implementing the P5 downtown fare hike to Mayor Sarmiento, who has asked the SB to grant him authority on the matter.