July 16, 2024

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What happens to unconsolidated drivers and operators after the Dec. 31 deadline?

4 min read

As we welcome the new year, many jeepney drivers and operators continue to fear for their livelihood as the deadline for franchise consolidation has lapsed.  

December 31 was the last day jeepneys were given to consolidate to a franchise—something drivers and other transport groups held protests and strikes over. Despite their calls, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos maintained that no extension would be given. 

Only 40% of jeepneys in Metro Manila have consolidated as of January 1, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Office of Transportation Cooperatives chairperson Jesus Ferdinand Ortega said in an interview with Unang Balita. Nationwide, “more or less” 70% of the 170,086 jeepney units.

As the franchise consolidation deadline has passed, what happens now to those who failed to meet the deadline? And how will this affect commuters?

After the deadline

Unconsolidated jeepneys will still be allowed to operate until Jan. 31 but only to those routes with zero or less than 60% consolidation. 

“’Yung mga operators na hindi nila kinonsolidate ‘yung kanilang prangkisa ay talagang hindi na sila pwedeng mag-operate; pwedeng babyahe ‘yung kanilang sasakyan pero bibigyan natin sila ng due process, mga 30 days,” said DOTr-Office of Transportation Cooperative chairman Jesus Ferdinand Ortega in an interview with 24 Oras. 

He added that the DOTr will also help drivers to continue in service through consolidated operators. However, they will no longer allow them to join consolidated cooperatives or any TSEs (transport service entities) but they may still be issued “Special Permits” to operate on routes consolidated TSEs.

The LTFRB has yet to release a list of routes with less than 60% of consolidated PUVs where unconsolidated drivers can operate.

With the PUV consolidation, IBON Foundation Executive Director Sonny Africa told ANC’s Headstart that fares may rise in the next years as transport cooperatives will need to earn to pay off the expenses that come with the PUV Modernization program.

“Fares will be kept low at maybe P15 to P20, P25 for the first three to five years,” he said. “But we fully expect that in five years or more, it will hit about P45 to P50.”

Why the need to consolidate?

Jeepneys consolidating into a cooperative or corporation as part of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), which aims to improve mass public transportation. Part of this is phasing out jeepneys, UV express, and buses older than 15 years.

The program dates back to 2017 and aims to replace the older vehicles with modern ones that are Euro-4, compliant with global standards in helping reduce pollutants in the environment, also in line with the government’s goal to provide “more dignified [and] humane” transport system. 

The phase-out is just one of the fundamental components of the program; also included in the plan is route rationalization and industry consolidation—which will be done through the formation of transport cooperatives to be entitled to government benefits like subsidies. 

Modern jeepneys, however, cost between P1.3 million to 3 million. Meanwhile, traditional jeepneys cost about P200,000 to P600,000.

In March 2023, DOTr said that they would be raising the equity subsidy amount to P260,000 to assist drivers and operators in buying modern PUVs.

“Dahil patuloy ang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga produktong petrolyo, ang pagtaas ng ­presyo ng mga gastusin, itataas din ng Kagawaran ang equity subsidy na tinatawag to a maximum amount of P260,000,” said DOTr Undersecretary Mark Steven Pastor.

Resisting PUVMP

Despite the promise of subsidy, replacing old PUVs is not as easy as it seems. Jeepney drivers have raised concerns about the costs of the vehicles as well as the cost of maintaining them in the long run, especially since the new units have parts and equipment sourced from abroad.

This is all on top of their basic household necessities like food and other goods like fuel.

“Ang pagpapatuloy ng PUV Modernization Program ay tahasang pagwasak sa pampublikong transportasyon bilang serbisyo publiko,” transport group PISTON said in a statement.

“Sa harap ng napakababa pa ring sahod ng mga manggagawa at nagtataasang presyo ng mga bilihin, malubhang disaster sa transportasyon ang inaasahan kahaharapin ng mga komyuter kapag nagpatuloy ang planong phaseout ng pamahalaan.”

In December, PISTON and other transport groups Para-Advocates For Inclusive Transport, No to PUV Phaseout Coalition, and Bayan Muna party-list filed a petition to the Supreme Court (SC) seeking help to stop the implementation of the PUV Modernization Program.

As per 24 Oras, the Supreme Court (SC) hasn’t issued any temporary restraining order, which means they can continue the program while the SC reviews the petitions.

Source: What happens to unconsolidated drivers and operators after the Dec. 31 deadline? (msn.com)

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