Transport groups operating these vehicles, along with other advocacy groups, cite the urgency of restoring their livelihood and the public demand for mass transportation and criticize the government priority on private vehicles.
Drivers and operators of UV Express vehicles and conventional jeepneys are appealing to transport authorities to allow them to return to the streets of Metro Manila, saying their fleets are more than ready to resume operations as they also need work “to live.”
“We are so disappointed that we cannot resume operations despite the fact that we are very much ready to observe the protocols set by the government,” Rosalino Marable, president of Coalition of Operators and Drivers of UV Express Atbp. (Codex), said on Monday.
Marable said Codex members were raring to go back to work because “they are already crying out of hunger. They want to go back to driving because they were piling up debts for three months.”
The transport group Piston said hundreds of thousands of commuters in the streets would need conventional jeepneys to get to their places.
“Jeepney drivers also need them to live,” Piston national president emeritus George San Mateo said on Monday.
He noted that the currently running public utility vehicles and other forms of mass transportation were not enough to meet demand.
“The 65,000 conventional jeepneys are ready to serve anytime and just waiting for the government,” he added.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the fate of traditional jeepneys would depend on whether the buses, modern jeepneys and taxis allowed to operate ahead of them would be adequate for commuters.
At a press briefing, Roque said the government was still studying whether to allow the conventional jeepneys back on the road as it claimed that physical distancing would be difficult to observe in these vehicles because of the longitudinal seating.
San Mateo of Piston, however, said physical distancing could be observed by putting up plastic barriers between passengers, which he noted were a strategy devised by conventional jeepneys and later on adopted by the government for modern jeepneys.
The administration has been trying for years to implement its controversial jeepney modernization program, under which the old models would be replaced with modern ones.
The full report in today’s issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer