DOTr pragmatic on jeep modernization

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    THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) did not exactly backtrack on its June 2020 deadline for operators of traditional jeepneys to modernize. But the department emphasized that the implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) will continue and there’s no turning back.

    This, even as the DOTr accommodated the suggestion by senators — particularly Senators Grace Poe and Sherwin Gatchalian — that traditional jeepneys may be allowed to ply their usual routes even beyond the announced deadline, as long as they are still “roadworthy” and their operators have expressed their intent to modernize their units.

    DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran explained that the PUVMP will still continue despite the decision to allow traditional jeepneys to be in use beyond June 2020.

    “What we said was, if the operators have not modernized their units yet by July 2020, we are considering not to automatically phase them out as long as they pass the computerized Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS),” Assistant Secretary Libiran said.

    The DOTr explained that should a unit pass the computerized MVIS, it will be granted a provisional authority (PA) valid for one year and will be required to undergo anew the technology-based MVIS to renew.

    However, the PUV operators are still required to file their petition for consolidation and express their intent to modernize their units or face the cancellation of their PAs even if their vehicle passed the roadworthiness test.

    “Should the existing operators fail to file for consolidation by June 30, 2020, their route will be opened to all interested applicants, and the existing operators will no longer enjoy the prior operator rule,” said Libiran.

    With the applicability of these rules and procedures on the jeepney modernization program, the DOTr just showed that it is sensitive to pleas from the affected section of the transport sector while not allowing contrary ideas to derail the implementation of the modernization program.

    Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade should be commended for pushing for the PUVMP despite the odds and the challenges. It is the flagship transport project of the Duterte administration in a bid to make public transportation in the country safer and more comfortable and to lessen the environmental pollution caused by old, dilapidated and smoke-belching public vehicles.