Transport groups protest PUV modernization plan

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Transport groups Piston and No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition (NJPC) on Monday set up a protest caravan in front of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) after holding a prayer vigil the night before in a bid to defer the implementation of the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

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The Omnibus Franchising Guidelines of the PUV modernization program is slated to be signed on the same day by Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade.

According to Piston president and NJPC co-convenor George San Mateo, around 1,000 members joined the caravan.

San Mateo said small jeepney operators do not have enough money to finance the conversion of jeepneys to solar-powered vehicles.

He added that they can rehabilitate their jeepneys instead of replacing them.

ENDANGERED SPECIES At the Elliptical Road in Quezon City on Monday, jeepney drivers and operators belonging to militant transport groups protest the signing of the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines that aims to phase out public utility jeepneys or PUJs that are more than 15 years old under a government modernization program. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

The PUV modernization program aims to make vehicles environment-friendly and give drivers a monthly fixed salary instead of relying on the so-called boundary system for their income.

With the implementation of PUV modernization program, operators are expected to consolidate in order to ensure better fleet management, the DoTr earlier said.

Public transport franchises will also be in accordance with local public transport plans, instead of the current system wherein franchises are dependent on route proposals of operators, it added.

“The LTFRB and the Department of Transportation are just fooling operators when Chairman Martin Delgra 3rd said there is no phase-out policy implementation,” San Mateo also earlier said.

Despite reiteration that there is no jeepney phase-out, the LTFRB said existing jeepneys will be scrapped in order for operators to raise capital for the modernized replacements.

A memorandum of understanding was signed in April, stating that Landbank will assist in financing operators, offering an equity with a 6 percent interest rate.

The full implementation of the program is set to begin by early 2019, the LTFRB said.

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