JEEPNEY drivers and operators can look forward to resuming operations and plying their usual routes within the week, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced yesterday during the government’s Laging Handa public briefing.
LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra, however, said there is one strict condition – only jeepneys that are roadworthy will be allowed on the streets.
“We have been preparing for the resumption of operations of our traditional jeepneys since last week. But we would like to emphasize again that these vehicles would have to be roadworthy, that is a strict condition set by the DOTR (Department of Transportation),” Delgra said.
Delgra said the regulatory body is finalizing the official memorandum circular that will govern the operations of the PUJs under existing health protocols enforced by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“They will be allowed to resume operations this week. We are just refining the memorandum circular that we will issue, hopefully tomorrow or by Wednesday at the latest,” he said.
In a separate virtual media presser on Monday afternoon, Delgra said traditional jeepneys would likely be back on the streets by Thursday or Friday.
He refused to disclose how many PUJs will be allowed to operate again, saying that the LTFRB is still finalizing the routes that will be assigned to them.
He said the PUJ routes will be not be interwoven with the routes where modernized jeepneys, mini-buses, buses and UV Express units are already plying to avoid traffic congestions in Metro Manila.
Posts on social media platforms earlier showed a number of jeepney drivers have been reduced to begging from passersby to tide their families over as their means of livelihood remain suspended.
Likewise, Delgra gave no update on the status of the request of transport groups and thousands of stranded commuters to let provincial bus lines to resume their services.
Delgra mentioned no approximate date when provincial bus trips will be allowed as he merely repeated his earlier statement that such a decision would have to include the IATF and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
“We have to coordinate closely with the DILG and get the nod of the IATF for when we can open up the provincial bus routes. We have to find out first if the local government units will allow these buses to enter their jurisdictions. This has to be an inter-agency approach,” he said.
The LTFRB chief insisted that despite objections from jeepney operators and drivers the government will forge on ahead with the phase out of the traditional passenger-type jeepney.
“We would like to clarify that the jeepney as a mode of transportation will continue to run on our streets. But not the old rickety smoke belchers. We will also do away with the old boundary system that has been proven to be inefficient for many years,” he said.
Under the proposed new system private ownership or one or two units of jeepneys will no longer be permitted.
“The first point is consolidation of the individual franchises. They can run under a fleet management program where they can run more efficiently rather than one by one. Under the boundary system, the drivers are living on a hand-to-mouth existence, if they don’t go to work, they don’t earn anything, and their families go hungry. We want salary-based drivers,” Delgra said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said traditional jeepneys are have already been allowed to operate in several provinces and regions, particularly in areas that are not being serviced by modern jeeps, buses or the elevated train system.
Roque said traditional jeepneys are now allowed in the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Cagayan de Oro, South Cotabato, Siquijor, Bohol and the city of Baguio.
He said traditional jeeps are also allowed in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Ilocos Region (I), Western Visayas (VI), Eatsern Visayas (VIII), Northern Mindanao (X), Davao (XI), Soccsksargen (XII), and Caraga (XIII).
The decision on the resumption of operations of traditional jeepneys comes after the LTFRB allowed 980 UV Express units to resume servicing Metro Manila and nearby provinces such as Cavite, Rizal and Laguna. – With Noel Talacay and Jocelyn Montemayor