Times are tough all around right now thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the entire world. In the Philippines’ case, a government-enforced community quarantine of Metro Manila is currently ongoing until April 14, 2020.
The quarantine’s restrictions have forced the metro’s citizens to adjust their activities accordingly, including the ways in which they commute. Right now, social distancing is being enforced on all modes of public transportation. In UV Express vehicles, for example, passengers must maintain a distance of one seat apart from one another, and no more than six people (including the driver) may ride at any given time.
These rules not only affect the commuters, of course, but also the drivers and operators, who are now forced to ferry fewer passengers and may suffer a subsequent blow to their bottom line as a result. Perhaps as a result of that, we came across some talk of UV Express drivers charging extra recently to combat the reduced passenger volume. We wanted some clarification on the legality of public utility vehicles (PUV) increasing their fares all of a sudden, so we reached out to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for some answers.
“That is not allowed. Any fare increase must be approved by the LTFRB.” replied Goddes Hope O. Libiran, the DOTr’s assistant secretary for communications and commuter affairs.
We followed up by asking if this rule on fare increases applies to all modes of public transportation. DOTr communications officer Richard Vargas explained: “Yes. That’s correct. This applies to all PUVs. Sanctions will be imposed by LTFRB for any violations in their CPCs.”
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), for its part, also issued a reminder stating the very same thing. Look:
So, there you have it. If you come across any PUVs charging extra during this community quarantine period, keep in mind that any fare increases must be approved by the government first.