FARE MATRIX. General Santos City Councilor Dominador Lagare Jr. shows the fare matrix approved by the City Motorized Tricycle Franchising and Regulatory Board, during a news conference at the City Hall on Wednesday (Aug. 24, 2022). The city government has called for the citywide dissemination of the new fare matrix, after complaints from the public that trike drivers (inset) continue to charge excessive fares. (Photo courtesy of General Santos CIO)

KORONADAL CITY – General Santos City officials have appealed to all tricycle drivers to honor the fare matrix that was approved by the city’s Motorized Tricycle Franchising and Regulatory Board (MTFRB), following reports of excessive fare charges.

In a press conference Wednesday, local officials provided updates on the new fare matrix and offered ways to help curb overpricing by some tricycle drivers in the area.

“We are publishing this fare matrix in all 26 barangay halls in the city,” City Treasurer Zenaida Eturma said. “We are doing everything to protect the integrity of the matrix that defines the city-issued amount of fare."

MTFRB officials said the minimum tricycle fare in General Santos City has been fixed since last week from PHP10 to PHP18 per passenger for the first four kilometers.

An additional PHP2 for every succeeding kilometer will be charged for each passenger.

Tricycle drivers, who claimed they have yet to recover from the effects of the pandemic in their operation, hailed the decision.

However, many commuters, mostly parents and students, criticized the decision, describing it as excessive.

“This is exorbitant. We also experienced the brunt of the pandemic and a PHP15 new fare for the first four kilometers would have been reasonable and understandable,” said Genoveva dela Peña, a market vendor who commutes daily by tricycle.

Romeo Sarmiento, a private firm employee, said many drivers do not comply with the fare matrix but dictate the amount on a “take it or leave it” basis, especially during heavy downpours.

“Clearly the matrix shows PHP18 per passenger for the first four kilometers, but the driver charged me PHP20 for a less than two-kilometer ride within the city proper,” Sarmiento said.

Another passenger, Homer Salaman, said, “From central market to SM City, they charged me PHP50 because it was raining then, but that is less than four kilometers.”

Eturma noted though that some tricycle drivers have been getting creative so they could overcharge.

“They can make it appear to charge PHP20 per passenger using the matrix that they have photoshopped from the original matrix,” she said.  

To avoid this, Eturma said the City Treasurer’s Office would laminate the matrix and put a QR code so that passengers could determine the fake from the original matrix.

Meanwhile, General Santos City Councilor Dominador Lagare Jr., chair of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) Committee on Transportation, defended the new tricycle fare matrix.

“The decision on the PHP18 fare was a result of a study of the Public Safety Office, all were considered like gas prices, prevailing cost of operation, prices of spare parts, among others,” Lagare said.

He said the MTFRB would be meeting twice a month to determine if there is a need to adjust the fare matrix.

In the meantime, he urged all tricycle drivers to cooperate in implementing the fare matrix, and the riding public to file complaints against tricycle units charging overpriced fares. (PNA)