Sometimes we come across stories on social media that make us wonder if they could really be true. Especially in these times of fake news and online trickery, one can never be too careful. So, when angry comments accompanying pictures of the new Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board fare matrix emerged online, we weren’t sure what to make of them at first. Could it really be that the LTFRB was charging every jeepney operator P610 for a simple piece of paper with the new fare prices on it, and that people had to queue for hours to actually get one? Surely not. Except, yes, it’s true. Here’s your latest dose of total government nonsense.
Dan Brown received a lot of flak when he placed the gates of hell in Manila for his book Inferno, but I think we may owe him an apology. It looks like the entrance to the underworld is indeed within this metropolis, and its precise location is a small white tent in the car park of the LTFRB headquarters in Quezon City. There, without air-conditioning, hundreds of people are currently queuing up to get their hands on a single sheet of paper. This precious document is the new fare matrix, and every jeepney operator who wants to charge the new P10 minimum fare needs to have one before he can do so. This means all of them have to make the trek to their nearest LTFRB office and stand in line for ages in order to receive the printed fare guide.
What really baffles us is not only why this effort is needed—as it literally is only a piece of paper you could easily offer for downloading online—but also why the agency is charging P610 for it. The official breakdown of the fee is P40 for franchise verification, P50 for the fare matrix itself and P520 for the rate increase. Just why exactly jeepney drivers have to fork out P610 in total for a simple fare increase boggles our minds as much as it probably does yours. We simply can’t find a logical explanation for the whole process, and even the official “Fare Matrix 101” states that the rules governing this entire procedure are old and possibly no longer appropriate. Go figure.
When we visited the LTFRB office in Quezon City yesterday, our initial plan was to join the queue and get our own matrix, but we quickly realized we weren’t made of the same material as the hundreds of PUV operators patiently waiting in the heat. Instead, we settled for a few pictures of the corpus delicti. We honestly feel so sorry for the many hardworking jeepney drivers who literally have to take a day off to endure what can only be described as a nonsensical money grab. At least the agency is aware that something’s not right. Board chairman Martin Delgra vowed to review the fee during an interview with GMA News earlier this week, so there’s a glimmer of hope that we won’t be seeing a repeat of this madness next time.