Imee: Hold Puv Modernization

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Senator Imee Marcos said that economic, logistical, and health considerations should prod the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to indefinitely put its public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program on hold and allow traditional jeepneys to resume operations.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic reforms, said the Covid-19 pandemic has not only rendered most jeepney drivers jobless for the past seven months of community quarantine restrictions but has now made it impossible for them to afford modernized jeepneys with Euro-4 capability that cost Php1.4 million to Php2.2 million pesos each.

The DoTr’s subsidies of Php80,000 to buy a modernized jeepney and an extra Php5,000 for gas were clearly insufficient, Marcos pointed out.

Marcos added that the short supply of modernized jeepneys for less than 5% of about 170,000 jeepney drivers, the lack of social welfare benefits for them, and the unfinished rerouting plans of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) made a clear case to postpone the jeepney modernization program.

“Instead of helping jeepney drivers amid the pandemic, the DoTr and LTFRB took advantage of the lockdown to push for the modernization program that, even before Covid-19, the poor drivers already could not afford,” Marcos said during a meet-and-greet via Zoom attended by leaders of several Metro Manila transport groups.

“How could we turn a blind eye to jeepney drivers begging on the streets because their families have gone hungry and could no longer pay the bills for rent, water and electricity?” Marcos added.

Traditional jeepneys also have an advantage over the enclosed and air-conditioned design of modernized jeepneys in reducing a commuter’s chances of catching Covid-19, Marcos also said, citing that doctors have recommended better ventilation in public utility vehicles.

As immediate aid to jeepney drivers out of work, Marcos donated sacks of rice on Monday to eight transport organizations including PASANG MASDA led by Obet Martin; FEJODAP led by Ricardo Rebano, ALTODAP led by Boy Vargas, LTOP led by Lando Marquez, STOP & GO Transport Coalition led by Juan Magno, ACTO led by Efren de Luna, as well as the Dapitan Drivers and Operators Jeepney Association and those plying the UP campus route.