Baguio OKs subsidy for jeepney drivers on special trips
BAGUIO CITY — Public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers here commissioned for special trips during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) shall be granted a weekly P600 subsidy beginning on May 4, Mayor Benjamin Magalong announced on Wednesday.
The subsidy would last until May 15 to help defray the maintenance and fuel expenses of 333 jeepney drivers serving 128 barangays, and eliminate an informal P20 per trip agreement with commuters.
The minimum fare in the summer capital is P9.
The hundred percent fare increase became a debate among city officials and transport agencies last week because residents were willing to pay the new rate during the Luzon-wide ECQ.
The lockdown designed to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) led to the suspension of all mass transportation services on March 17.
The special fares drew the attention of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the Land Transportation Office after a handful of PUJ drivers were apprehended while ferrying residents who went out to purchase basic necessities.
City Budget Officer Leticia Clemente urged the city government to consider a jeepney subsidy instead so commuters still reeling from the coronavirus disease crisis won’t have to shoulder high fares.
These jeeps roll out only on the two Market Days designated for their respective villages. Due to the social distancing protocol, each jeepney may only carry half of their designated capacity (or 10 of 23 passengers).
The proposed “transition” plan would eventually require more public utility vehicles to transport employees and business workers .
Richard Lardizabal, chief of the city’s Transport Management Division, said the city may allow as many as 500 of the city’s 4,000 jeepneys to roll out in May.
Currently, 22 taxicabs have been granted special permits to transport healthworkers, senior citizens and other frontliners, he said, and government may add 5 to 10 percent more.
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