a person standing in front of a crowd: DOTr hikes subsidy for modern jeepneys to P160,000 © Geremy Pintolo DOTr hikes subsidy for modern jeepneys to P160,000

MANILA, Philippines? — In a bid to help public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators transition to modernized or standardized jeepneys, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will double the equity subsidy to buy new vehicles from P80,000 to P160,000.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade signed yesterday a directive amending a provision in Department Order 2018-016 to address the affordability of modern PUV units and financial viability of the program for drivers and operators participating in the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

This developed as Malaca?ang clarified yesterday that only “roadworthy” traditional jeepneys might be allowed to resume operations next week.

DOTr officials said the P160,000 per PUV unit is equity subsidy for existing operators with valid franchises as well as PUV operators applying for new or developmental routes under the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines.

According to Tugade, the increase in equity subsidy is a way of helping stakeholders who are participating in the PUVMP as the country begins to gradually shift to the “new normal” amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation.

“As we move forward for change, this is one way of DOTr’s assistance to you. Contrary to statements of critics, we are here to assist and hear the concerns of all stakeholders. Especially now that we are gearing to a future wherein modernization will greatly benefit everyone,” he said.

Tugade also noted that the subsidy increase is retroactive and includes those with applications from July 31, 2018.

Sen. Nancy Binay urged the DOTr and the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to act on the plight of traditional jeepney drivers who are having a hard time adjusting to the effects of the pandemic.

“The DOTr and LTFRB should not be blind and deaf to the cry of our jeepney drivers,” Binay said.

“Our drivers are troubled whether they will be allowed or not by the DOTr and LTFRB to operate or not. Why not tell it straight to them whatever plans they have. Will the traditional jeepneys be allowed to operate or not?” asked Binay.

She said jeepney drivers and operators have had enough of the evasive response and the repulsive treatment they are getting from the DOTr and LTFRB.

She noted that the DOTr claimed if PUVs and buses cannot accommodate passenger demand in a certain area, only then would government allow traditional jeepneys to resume limited operations.

The increase in subsidy was welcomed by LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra who said it would allow more PUV drivers and operators to participate in the PUVMP.

“More PUV operators and drivers can now participate in the PUV Modernization Program as they are assured of access to loans especially from government-run banks,” Delgra said.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said only roadworthy traditional jeepneys would be allowed to operate if transportation remains lacking despite the deployment of other modes of mass transport.??“Let’s be honest. There is no assurance (that all drivers of traditional jeepneys would be allowed to resume operations). What we said was if transportation remains lacking after the deployment of buses, modern jeepneys and UVs (Express), we would allow some jeepneys that are deemed to be roadworthy,” Roque said at a press briefing.??The government follows a “hierarchy of public transport modes,” wherein traditional jeepneys are at the bottom because of difficulties in observing safe distancing.

Delgra on Wednesday told the House committee on Metro Manila development that UV Express vans and jeepneys would be allowed to return to operations next week.

DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran said the LTFRB is currently drafting the guidelines for the operation of UV Express vehicles.

Edsa bus lanes

Despite complaints from commuters, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) would open 16 new bus stops located in the middle of EDSA probably next week, an official said.

“Give us five days to one week, the bus stops along EDSA, below the MRT-3 (Metro Rail Transit Line 3) line can be used,” MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago told radio dzBB yesterday.

She revealed this after a recent meeting among Tugade, MMDA chairman Danilo Lim and general manager Jojo Garcia and LTFRB’s Delgra.

The bus stops in the middle of EDSA that would be connected to some MRT-3 emergency exits would have enough spaces where buses could pick up and drop passengers, which Pialago described as like emergency bays.

With two inner lanes of EDSA – those close to the elevated MRT-3 rails – to be used by city buses, the innermost lane could be used for buses loading and unloading passengers while the other lane would be for passing buses, she added.

From the previous 15 bus stops, another would be added at the Kamuning area in Quezon City due to the frequency of commuters there, she noted. Cecille Suerte Felipe, Ghio Ong, Christian Imperio

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