Despite opposition from transport groups, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) over the weekend reported an expanding number of public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators accredited by the PUV Modernization Program (PUVMP).
Data from the Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC), a DoTr-attached agency, show 1,131 transport cooperatives with 110,909 drivers and operators accredited under the program.
The OTC reported the number of transport cooperatives almost tripled from only 429 prior to the PUVMP launch in 2017.
DoTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Steve Pastor said the increasing number of drivers and operators is critical for the on-time full implementation of the program in June.
Under the provisions of the PUVMP, jeepneys 15 years or older will be phased out three years after the launch of the program. This means that by June 2020, old jeepneys should have been gone completely.
Pastor said the DoTr will work closely with cooperatives to ensure it is capable of financing the new PUV units.
Instead of drivers and operators purchasing the new units themselves, cooperatives may take out loans from banks that offer financial assistance to comply with the PUVMP.
“Drivers will benefit from putting up cooperatives as they will now become operators as well. Apart from monthly salaries and benefits such as SSS and PhilHealth, they will also earn from the profit of the cooperative. We strongly urge our drivers and operators to register now as a cooperative,” Pastor explained.
While the June deadline for the PUVMP set, Pastor said DoTr has given consideration to individual PUV drivers and transport groups that will miss the deadline on two conditions.
“First, they must submit a certification from LTO (Land Transportation Office) that their vehicles are roadworthy. Second, their transport groups must file for consolidation of the franchise,” Pastor explained.
DoTr also underscored the importance of the policies for the issuance of the franchise for road-based public transport services in recognition of its responsibility in ensuring the safety of commuters.
According to the National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection Inc., only 236,000 jeepneys plying various routes in the Philippines are legal.
PISTON president Emeritus George San Mateo said the government should “hold and abrogate its current program” and insisted the drivers and operators should also have participated in crafting the PUVMP framework.