Fare discount for students

February 11, 2019

Holiday, weekend privilege soon a law

GIVING 20 percent fare discounts to students even during holidays and weekends will soon become a law after the bicameral conference committee of both the House of Representatives and the Senate ratified a measure providing for the privilege.

The two chamber harmonized the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 1597 and House Bill 8885, or the “Student Fare Discount Act” before Congress adjourned last week.

The measure institutionalizes the grant of 20 percent fare discounts to students on all land, air and water transportation, even during weekends and holidays.

Senator Bam Aquino, principal author of the measure, said it will strengthen the mandate for student discounts on transport fares. The law will force all PUV drivers to give discounts to students 24/7.

SBN 1597, contained in Committee Report 166, is in substitution of SB Nos. 662, 945 and 1226 authored by Aquino, Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, who sponsored the measure, and Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, respectively. Sen. Francis Escudero steered the passage of the measure as chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.

The counterpart measure at the House of Representatives is authored by Rep. Alfred Vargas (5th District, Quezon City).

Currently, the privilege is being enforced by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) through a memorandum circular it issued in October 2017 stating that students are entitled to the 20-percent discount from Monday to Sunday, including summer breaks, legal and special holidays but is not effectively being enforced and is not being followed.

Once the bill is enacted into law, all Filipino students -- from elementary to college, as well as those enrolled in technical-vocational schools -- would be entitled to a 20 percent discount on buses, jeepneys, taxis, tricycle, transport network vehicle services or TNVS, MRT, LRT, as well as airline and passenger ships.

Specifically excluded are those enrolled in dancing and driving schools, short-term courses of seminar type, and post-graduate studies (those taking up medicine, law, masteral, doctoral degrees and the like), the measure stated.

Students who will travel abroad, either by plane or passenger ship, for education, training and competition shall be exempt from the payment of travel tax “upon proper showing of proof or documentation of intended purpose,” the measure also stated.

Students who will be refused the privilege may file their complaints with the LTFRB for land transportation utilities; Maritime Industry Authority (for sea/water transportation utilities); and Civil Aeronautics Board (for air transportation utilities).

Failure to provide the fare discount is a franchise violation that carries the following penalties: a fine of P5,000 for the first offense, P10,000 and their vehicles impounded for one month for the second offense, and P15,000 and cancellation of franchise or Certificate of Public Convenience for the third offense.

For water transportation utilities, a fine ranging from P10,000 to P50,000 and warning for the first offense; P20,000 to P60,000 and suspension of operation of the ship for at least 30 days for the second offense; and P30,000 to P70,000 and suspension of operation of the ship for the third offense.

For air transportation utilities, P50,000 to P100,000 for the first offense; P100,000 to P150,000 and a warning for the second offense; and P150,000 to P200,000 and other sanctions as may be determined by the CAB for the third and subsequent offenses.