PUBLIC utility jeepney (PUJ) operators are requesting for a delay in the implementation of the modernization program by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) amid both the pandemic and rise of fuel prices globally, according to Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
“They are requesting it because of the impact of the pandemic. They are requesting a delay of the timeline because there is an initial defined timeline, a timetable made by the DOTr in the past, to take the loan, the cooperatives, the consolidation. However, with the pandemic, everyone has been impacted, and financially, many of our drivers cannot handle it,” Magalong said.
According to Magalong, the city is only waiting for the jeepney operators in the city to come up with a unified manifestation that the city can then endorse and forward to the appropriate agencies and the DOTr.
However, he said that the DOTr will be the ones to decide the length of a delay in the modernization program, potentially with talks with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
“They have to well-define the impact. First, how much is the impact of the pandemic, and the transport sector’s capacity to recover is another factor. How would they get to their pre-pandemic levels? At the same time, their growth path. That has to be determined so they can see how many years we should delay this modernization,” Magalong said.
He added that he is also waiting for an official document requesting a fare hike that he can then support and forward to the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Magalong said that the fare hike is likely to push through as the LTFRB is also already making moves to implement it.
“Besides, the LTFRB is already making moves to fast-track the approval of the fare hike. It is already big, especially this week when it will go up to 12 pesos. It would be a huge challenge now,” Magalong said.
While Magalong said that the city has not yet met with other public utility vehicles (PUV) operators such as taxi drivers and operators, he said that their sentiments are the same as the PUJ associations and cooperatives.