Issue of August 4, 2019
     
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DOTr holds caravan of eco-friendly jeeps
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

EURO-COMPLIANT PUJ -- The Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Office have organized the first ever caravan and exhibit of “modern” public utility jeepneys where companies selling these vehicles offered free rides around the central business district on July 30. Under the DOTR’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program, public transportation services are required, among others, to convert to Euro 4 engines, which emit fewer contaminants into the atmosphere as opposed to vehicles that are not compliant to European emission standards. -- Rimaliza Opiña

Protests notwithstanding, the Department of Transportation, through the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board have organized Tuesday the first-ever caravan of Euro 4-compliant jeepneys in Baguio.

Participating companies offered free rides around the central business district to test if the jeeps could navigate the city’s terrains. Financing options were also available during the caravan.

Simultaneous with the caravan and exhibition of units is a dialogue between the LTFRB, LTO, Office of Transportation Cooperatives, drivers, and operators affected by the transportation modernization program.

The companies that joined the exhibit and caravan showcased units that are Euro 4 and Euro 6-compliant, have seating capacities of between 20 and 30 passengers, with provision for passengers to either seat or stand, bench type seats, airconditioning systems, secured doors, and special seats for persons with disability.

The jeepneys cost between P1.2 million and P1.8M.

The Baguio-Benguet Movement Against Jeepney Phaseout also conducted a protest rally.

The group and other jeepney associations reiterated that they are not opposing the transport modernization program which, among others, calls for the phasing out of jeepneys and cancellation of individual franchises.

In a position paper, the group said an ordinary driver or operator could hardly comply with the PUV Modernization Program because of the tedious process and big costs involved.

Under the modernization program, individual franchises will soon be cancelled to allow the operation of jeepney cooperatives or jeepney corporations.

Those who wish to continue with the transportation business will be required to form a group with a minimum of 15 members and register as a juridical entity.

To register as a juridical entity, each member has to shell out at least P20,000.

After forming a cooperative or corporation, they will be required to comply with legal and technical requirements and submit various documents including undertakings attesting to, among others, that the cooperative or corporation will start operating modern PUJs as soon as the manufacturer is able to produce enough units, undertaking that they are willing abide by a local government unit’s route plan, and proof of financial capability to manage a fleet from the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

The LTFRB also requires operators to install automated fare collection equipment in each unit where instead of cash, passengers will just swipe prepaid cards when paying their fare.

The cooperative or corporation will also be required to submit a fleet management and dispatch system, contract of lease for use of off-street garage or loading area.

“These make it impossible for small-time operators/cooperatives/corporations to pass in the selection. The implementing guidelines is extremely difficult and expensive to fulfill legally, financially, and technically,” the group said in its position paper.

Operators and drivers said the high amount of operational costs will result in a fare increase.

LTFRB officials led by OIC Director for the Cordillera Lalaine Sobremonte said they expect resistance from the public transportation sector but they said the program has to start in order to achieve an efficient transportation system in the country.

“Napag-iiwanan na tayo ng ibang bansa. The modernization program is not only a flagship project but also a system where we address issues on traffic congestion, air pollution, route plans,” Sobremonte said.

LTRFB-National Capital Region Director Zona Tamayo added the DOTr has come up with schemes that will help affected drivers and operators.

Aside from low interest loans by government banking institutions, the Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC) gives free seminars on how to manage a fleet.

Darwin Tan of the Operations Division of the OTC said the income of the corporation or cooperative will not come from fares alone. As a juridical entity, they may enter into other business ventures such as supplier of auto parts or operate a gasoline station depending on the agreement of the members.

“Maraming benefits. Aside addressing the individualistic franchise system, kapag korporasyon o coop sila pwede silang maging supplier ng mga spare parts o gulong o kung anumang negosyo nilang pasukin. Ang kita nila, puwedeng gamitin sa maintenance at operational cost ng mga miyembro nila. We will assist them,” Tan said.

If already operating as a fleet, Tan said members will be taught the unified dispatch system. “Sa ganoong paraan, hindi na sila magkukumpetensiya kung sino ang una o nahuli sa pila,”Tan added.

The LTFRB appealed to the transportation sector to be open to changes for this will benefit them in the end.


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