Some transport groups announced on Monday that they will hold a transport holiday in the National Capital Region and Region 3 from March 6 to 12 to express their opposition to the government’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program.
According to a report on GTV’s Balitanghali, most of the members of the said groups are jeepney and UV Express drivers and operators.
The PUV modernization program aims to replace traditional jeepneys with vehicles powered by more environment-friendly fuels.
Operators and drivers can apply for new franchises, but as part of transport cooperatives.
For the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), it is better for a jeepney driver to be a member of a cooperative because they will no longer need to maintain boundaries.
Several jeepney drivers have appealed to the government to give them more time to shift to modern jeepneys, but the LTFRB has given operators only until June 30 to comply after already extending the deadline several times.
Senate public service committee chairperson Grace Poe said the stalemate between the government's efforts to modernize the transportation system and the drivers' capability to upgrade their vehicles is a "long-standing" problem.
Poe believes it may be time for the Department of Transportation to give Congress updates on the modernization program.
"I think we need to call them back in. Since they already extended it to June, we have ample time, hopefully, to see what the reality is and if June is a practical deadline? Is it an achievable deadline or is it another arbitrary deadline?" she asked.
Aside from the funding source for the modernization program, Poe pointed out that drivers were not able to get loans from the government to upgrade the PUVs to Euro 4 vehicles.
For Poe, the LTFRB should focus on providing adequate and safe means of transportation to the public.
"Tignan nila may kakulangan na ruta, may kakulangan ng sasakyan, yun ang tutukan nila ng kanilang pagbigay ng solusyon. Ano ang ligtas na paraan at magbukas ng mas maraming ruta para hindi tayo kulang ng mga sasakyan," Poe said.
(They should check if there are enough routes and public tranportation vehicles. That should be their focus. What's the safest wat to add more routes to ensure there are enough public transportation vehicles.) —Joviland Rita/Hana Bordey/ VAL, GMA Integrated News