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Senator urges DOTr to revisit PUV modernization program

A senator on Sunday urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to reconsider the public utility vehicle modernization program amid opposition of some transport groups.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, said “We really have to revisit this program. On top of revisiting the strategy itself, we also have to revisit the program itself.”

The PUV modernization program aims to phase out old 15-year-old or older jeepneys and replace them with Euro 4 compliant vehicles that can run on renewable energy. Each unit's cost ranges from P1 million to P2.2 million.

During the hearing of DOTr’s ?147-billion budget for 2020, Gatchalian presided and questioned the slow rollout of the program which was launched in 2015.

“Ang common feedback na nakukuha ko ay napakahirap daw mag-comply sa mga dokumento pagdating sa isyu ng financing …Mataas masyado iyong interest rates na binibigay nung banko at iyong technology required –yung cashless payment – mayroong problema dito,” Gatchalian pointed out.

“Maraming bottlenecks. Kaya yung take up, as reflected in the documents, mabagal na mabagal,” he added.

According to Gatchalian, DOTr’s data showed that public utility buses (PUBs) and public utility jeepneys (PUJs) serve 67% of demand but use 28% of road space.

There are 234,739 PUJs nationwide, of which 90% are at least 15 years old

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said the cheapest units valued at around ?900,000 will have an amortization of ?500 per day. The larger units, valued at P1.6 million, on the other hand, will have an amortization of ?1,000 per day.

DOTR reported that at least 575 units had been provided with loans amounting to ?1 billion while ?2.4 billion are now in the pipeline for application for 1,238 units.

Currently, at least 2,595 PUV units are operating in 320 routes while over 130,000 members consolidated themselves into 952 cooperatives.

“The senators support this program. You have our support. All we need is to understand the strategy of replacing the PUVs on the basis of root cause analysis,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian gave DOTr one month to reconsider the program.

“I want this before we hear this in plenary. We are giving you approximately almost one month. Before we hear it in plenary, I want you to submit this, because the amount we are talking about is a huge amount,” he added. —Joviland Rita/LBG, GMA News