The PUVMP versus traditional jeepneys saga continues. As we speak, a transport strike is in full swing, but despite the fact that the protests and transport groups’ “show of force” against the modernization program continues, the DOTr, and the LTFRB maintained that it will happen, and have clarified that the December 31 deadline is for consolidation and not necessarily for the phasing out of traditional jeepneys.
DOTr wants LTFRB to “relax” requirements for PUVMP
Announcements of the deadline for public utility vehicle modernization are what prompted the transportation strike. Numerous deadline extensions have been given for existing franchises to give time for operators and drivers to comply with the PUVMP, but this was not met with much optimism or acceptance.
In a statement, Atty. Teofilo Guadiz III, LTFRB Chairman, clarified that the deadline indicated in Memorandum Circular 2023-013 is as follows: “The deadline for December 31 is not for the phase-out of jeepneys. The deadline is only for the consolidation, urging the drivers to come together, consolidate as one, and start the formation of a cooperative in pursuit of the modernization”. What that means is that operators and drivers should have put up cooperatives by that time and that these said cooperatives will help those under its umbrella with the costs entailed in modernizing PUV fleets.
Once operators and drivers have formed their own cooperatives or corporations, the next step would be the implementation of the other components of the program—route rationalization, and improvement of operations through fleet management, among others, according to Department of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista.
Bautista has since ordered the LTFRB to look for ways to make the requirements of the PUVMP easier and amenable for all to be able to comply. Secretary Bautista and the DOTr have also reached out to PUV operators and drivers to work out issues regarding the modernization of jeepneys.
“We are willing to bend backwards, suggesting to the board of LTFRB to relax the requirements to enable drivers to adopt to the program,” Bautista said. “We even offered to dialogue with drivers associations displeased with the PUVMP to explore how they can be accommodated into the program,” he added.
Challenges and non-acceptance aside, the PUVMP will still be pushed. On the talks and deadlines, Bautista said “Kasi kung hindi tayo magbibigay ng deadline, walang susunod. Hindi natin mai-implement itong ating PUV Modernization Program if we don’t impose deadlines. Ang nakita ko nga po ay kailangang magkaroon ng consolidation and sa tingin ko kailangan magkaroon ng deadline hindi pwede maging open ended ito [If we don’t give a deadline, no one will comply. We won’t be able to implement the PUV Modernization Program if we don’t impose deadlines. What I saw is that there must be a consolidation and I think a set deadline must be imposed, it cannot be open-ended].”
The PUVMP means for the road transportation system in the country to be transformed by addressing vehicle safety and quality, route network efficiency, and fleet management while providing commuters with a modern public utility vehicle that is comfortable, accessible, safe, and affordable.
As it stands, there are at least 1,156 cooperatives, corporations, and other consolidated companies with consolidated franchises operating. There are an estimated 98,801 public utility jeepney units as of February 25, 2022. Meanwhile, 406 consolidated entities are operating 14,289 franchised UV Express units. The Office of Transportation Cooperatives has accredited at least 1,715 transport service cooperatives with 261,853 members, consisting of operators and drivers, as of January 2023. A total of 6,814 units of modern PUVs already run a total of over 400 routes, according to the transport chief.
These are pretty significant numbers, but the PUVMP wants at least 95% of all PUVs to be modernized. There are a lot more that still need to be phased out, eventually.
What’s your stand on the PUVMP? Do you have any ideas on how the operators and drivers could be helped while the PUVMP can successfully be carried out after years of delays? Let us know what you think in the comments. This does, after all, affect all of us.