PUV modernization rules eased

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    The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is relaxing the rules on the public utility vehicles (PUVs) modernization program amid the pandemic.

    The LTFRB has given owners and operators of PUVs enough time to consolidate while allowing them to operate provisionally as long as their vehicles meet safety standards.

    Martin Delgra, LTFRB chairman, in a press briefing said the agency has extended anew the deadline for PUVs to consolidate themselves into cooperatives from Dec. 31, 2020 to March 31, 2021. PUVs which have yet to consolidate after the deadline will be given a provisional authority to operate for a year, renewable annually, as long as they pass the Motor Vehicle Inspection Station (MVIS) test.

    The number of operational modern PUVs stood 2,836 as of end January of which 2,156 are public utility jeepneys; 166 utility van express vehicles; 49 mini buses and; 465 public utility buses, LTFRB data showed.

    That is but a small percentage considering PUJs alone number 170,000 units all over the country.

    Franchise consolidation through transport cooperatives was launched in 2017 as part of the PUV modernization program.

    To apply for franchise consolidation, existing franchise owners of a single route must first form an entity, cooperative, or corporation with at least 15 units up for consolidation. The cooperative will be registered as an entity with the Securities and Exchange Commission and will be eligible for financial assistance through government loan programs with the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines. The last step is to apply for route rationalization.