INDIVIDUAL jeepney operators will be a thing of the past once the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) is in full swing, the Department of Transportation said.
“Under the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG), you will not be granted a franchise if you are not part of a cooperative or consortium,” Transportation Assistant Secretary for Roads Mark De Leon told reporters in an interview on Monday.
“We are modernizing the unit and the way they operate. They need to be a cooperative, consortium, or a corporation,” De Leon said.
Under the program, jeepney engines must comply with Euro-4 emission and consumption standards.
Signed by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on June 19, the OFG was criticized by the transport groups PISTON and Stop & Go Coalition.
They argued that upgrading their current vehicles is more affordable and feasible than buying a new unit, and that the modernization will result in higher fares.
“Kung individual, mahirap. That’s not what we want,” Transportation Undersecretary for roads and concurrent Metro Manila Development Authority General Manager Thomas Orbos said.
“They need to form a consortium for the benefit of everyone,” he said.
The new jeepneys must cater to PWDs and senior citizens, as well as fitted with CCTV camera, GPS system, Automatic Fare Collection System, Wi-Fi, speed limit devices, and dashboard cam.
On Monday, the Transportation department and the Development Bank of the Philippines signed a deal covering P1.5-billion financing facility to jumpstart the PUVMP.
The DBP Program Assistance to Support Alternative Driving Approaches (PASADA) will lend the money to transport corporations and cooperatives. The seven-year loans carry a 6 percent annual interest rate.
The government is bent on scrapping existing jeepneys, with the operator getting the scrap value of the vehicle.
“There will be a monetary component for every vehicle you give up,” Orbos said.
The new jeepneys will be piloted after local government units have completed a route rationalization plan two years from now, De Leon said.
In an earlier interview, Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board Spokesperson Aileen Lizada said the government intended to set up “guarantee fund” to make sure the loans from the financing facility will be paid.
Tugade emphasized the modernization program intends to strengthen the jeepney as a business.
“I will just clarify that the modernization program of public utility (vehicles) is not anti-poor. It is not designed to phase out the jeepneys or the jeepney business,” Tugade said in a speech on Monday.
“It is actually designed to strengthen and guarantee the profitability of the jeepney business,” he added.