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By Mariejo S. Ramos 

Jeepney drivers and operators will have three more months to consolidate their fleets for the government’s modernization program for public utility vehicles (PUVs) after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) extended the deadline for applications to March 31 next year.

“The existence of quarantine protocols made it difficult for the concerned grantees of CPC [certificate of public convenience] to file applications for consolidation,” the LTFRB said in Memorandum Circular 2020-084 dated Dec. 18.

It decided to extend anew the Dec. 31 deadline for filing of applications for consolidation of individual and existing franchise holders in compliance with the PUV Modernization Program “due to their clamor and after considering the present circumstances.”

The Department of Transportation launched the program through Department Order No. 2017-011 on June 19, 2017, in a bid to restructure and “modernize” PUVs that are still tied to the traditional boundary system.

Program components

Among the program components is fleet consolidation, which encourages smaller transport operators to merge and form a consortium or cooperative that will oversee the operation and maintenance of PUVs.

Some operators had earlier said they were finding it hard to surrender their old franchise and consolidate their fleets by Dec. 31 due to logistical and technical issues in complying with the requirements, especially during the quarantine when most of them were forced out of the road.

On July 10, the LTFRB extended the filing of applications from June 30 to Dec. 31 after President Duterte placed the country under community quarantine, affecting people’s mobility and office operations of the transport agency nationwide.

The extension covers all existing operators of public utility jeepneys and UV Express service with valid CPCs, and drivers and operators who were given a special permit or provisional authority to operate under the quarantine.

According to the LTFRB, those who still failed to consolidate after March 31, 2021, may be allowed to operate under a provisional authority for one year or until a consolidated entity of units compliant with the omnibus franchising guidelines is formed on their route.

The provisional authority will be “subject to the approval of the local public transport route plan or route rationalization, as may be applicable,” it said.

Jeepney phaseout

The Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (Acto) welcomed the board’s decision to extend the deadline for consolidation.ADVERTISEMENThttps://93c405d60b7af9f0fb45a1afc096d728.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

“If they didn’t extend the deadline, it would mean that they’re phasing us out [by Dec. 31]. This would violate Bayanihan 2, which indicated that until the pandemic is here, there would be no phaseout of public utility vehicles,” said Acto president Efren de Luna.

The alliance, he said, was not against modernizing PUVs but against the fleet consolidation scheme, which would require small PUV operators to surrender their franchises.

“Once we consolidate, it would mean we agree with their proposal to adopt an investment scheme, which will only go to big corporations. We already have our individual associations, so changing our units into modern ones won’t need surrendering our franchises or getting a bank loan—if their main goal is really to modernize our units,” said Luna.

After the March 31 deadline, Luna said the group would still continue opposing the new fleet management scheme, which it feared could lead to the phaseout of jeepney routes. INQ

IN PHOTO: Traditional and modern jeepneys share space on Pinatubo Street in Mandaluyong City. The government wants to restructure and “modernize” PUVs that are still tied to the traditional boundary system. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Read more: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1375352/jeepney-operators-drivers-given-3-more-months-to-merge-fleets#ixzz6hUdCQVUt
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