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DOTr to subsidize ‘unprofitable’ PUV routes, instead of fare discount

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is doing away with its earlier plan to implement a fare discount in public utility vehicles (PUV) in Metro Manila and instead subsidize operations of unprofitable routes.

In a chance interview with reporters on the sidelines of an event in Taguig City on Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said, “There are routes na nalulugi sila (which are losing money), we can give subsidies instead of asking for discounts.”

“Yung mga drivers na lang and operators ang bibigyan ng subsidy (We will instead give subsidy to drivers and operators),” Bautista said.

In March, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced it approved fare discounts for select routes in Metro Manila which is supposedly to take effect this month.

Upon implementation, minimum fare in traditional jeepneys shall revert to P9 - the same rate before the pandemic - from the current P12.

The PUV fare discount was supposed to last for only six months or until the P1.285 billion under the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA) for service contracting program and some P875 million under unprogrammed funds were fully exhausted.

The fare discount was pushed in place of free rides in the EDSA Bus Carousel, which ended on December 31, 2022.

Now, the planned subsidy for unprofitable routes shall be funded under the same allocation.

Asked if the DOTr will still push for PUV fare discount, Bautista said, “Siguro hindi na muna namin ipapa-implement ‘yun kasi mahirap ‘yung magbibigay ka ng discount tapos magbibigay ka pa ng subsidy ng mga drivers.“

(I think we won’t be implementing it because it’s difficult to give discounts while at the same time subsidizing drivers.)

“Ia-identify natin ung mga ruta kasi ung iba nalulugi na raw (We will identify routes which are losing money),” he said.

The Transportation chief said it will give the LTFRB until the end of May or early June to identify the routes.

Bautista said the DOTr is studying the mechanism of disbursing as well as the amount of subsidy to be given to each operator.

“We will subsidize drivers for them to continue their operations,” he said. -- BAP, GMA Integrated News