No phase-out yet! With the looming week-long transport strike, the LTFRB has issued a statement regarding the franchises of traditional PUVs. In a streamed press conference, the agency declared that an extension will be given until December 31, 2023, and operators and drivers have until then to (finally) comply with the terms of the PUVMP.
LTFRB extends franchise validity until the end of the year
The government has maintained its stand that the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) must and will happen. Not to be mistaken as relenting to the threat of a transport strike, the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board deferred the deadline nonetheless. It was originally set to expire on June 30, but that has been pushed back to December 31, 2023.
The strong opposition from transport groups, operators, and drivers alike, has prompted a Senate hearing which led to a unanimous vote to extend the franchises’ validity and the modernization deadline. Senate Resolution 44 has been put in place, with DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista and the Republic President himself agreeing that a 6-month extension will do well for the proper updating of PUV fleets and the operators to consolidate into respective cooperatives.
The main concern that hinders the implementation of the PUVMP is the cost involved. The LTFRB has said that traditional jeepneys will no longer be allowed to ply the roads once the (full) modernization program begins, but this will directly affect the livelihood of thousands. As it stands, the transport strike scheduled for next week still looks like it will push through, but we sincerely hope it doesn’t.
Six months is a very long time and the waiting time for PUV modernization has been even longer. Still split down the middle, opinions about the Program will vary. But the fact remains that this is the price of progress, but that price should not amount to food on the table for those who cannot comply.
Let’s hope that the LTFRB, the DOTr, and the transport groups involved can finally sit down and find the best way to carry out the PUVMP. And not stranding thousands of commuters with a strike is a good way to start.