JEEPNEY drivers and operators of Central Luzon appealed to the Duterte administration last week for a selective phase-out – instead of a total phase-out – of Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) in January next year as ordered by the Department of Transportation (DoTr).
The government has long been postponing the effectivity of the phase-out, to give them all possible time and opportunity to make adjustments. But the Central Luzon group is now asking for just one more extension plan before the total phase-out mandated by the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program.
The DoTr plan calls for the retirement of all jeepneys 15 years old and above and their replacement with new vehicles run by less polluting engines. The government has devised a financing program to help operators acquire the new units that would also be equipped with such amenities as CCTV cameras, automatic fare collection systems, and even wifi.
But some operators say the government program is beyond their financial capacity. Those who staged a rally in San Fernando, Pampanga, last Thursday thus proposed that instead of a total phase-out, the government should prioritize the retirement of dilapidated jeepneys with engines that fail to pass government motor vehicle inspection. This would immediately eliminate the worst of the polluting vehicles. At the same time, it will give the operators a little more time to replace the estimated 300,000 old jeepneys still running around the country.
By this time, we believe the nation’s jeepney operators and drivers realize that their old vehicles will have to go.
So many of them have been around for decades. They continue to be patronized by many passengers because of their low fares. But other transport systems are gaining ground – light rail transits, buses, and air-conditioned UV units.
Unless jeepneys move up in safety and convenience, they will soon find their regular customers moving up to the other mass transport systems.
The Central Luzon drivers who rallied last week in Pampanga admitted that there are indeed many dilapidated jeepneys still on the road, but they continue to be approved as roadworthy by the Land Transportation Office, they said.
They are asking for one more extension that would give them a little more time to make financial adjustments. Their proposal will require the government to upgrade the LTO motor vehicle inspection system. But if this is approved, it should be the final extension before the truly total phaseout of old polluting jeepneys in our country.
The national No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition was planning a two-day transport strike Monday and Tuesday, but agreed to call it off and instead air their concerns before a Senate inquiry called by Sen. Grace Poe for Thursday. This should be a good opportunity to come up with a program that will consider the needs and problems of the jeepney people while carrying out the national government’s modernization plan.