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Tips seen as substitute for higher fare as social distancing cuts jeepney loads by half

/ 05:08 PM June 12, 2020
Baguio commuters take a jeepney ride downtown sheathed in their own plastic compartments

BUBBLE. Baguio commuters take a jeepney ride downtown sheathed in their own plastic compartments as more businesses and offices opened under a modified general community quarantine. But jeepneys can only take half of its load capacity. EV ESPIRITU

BAGUIO CITY—Jeepney drivers, who lost income during the Luzon lockdown, may install “tip boxes” in lieu of special fare rates during the quarantine, according to a proposed ordinance at the city council this week.

The measure, which was passed on first reading during the council’s June 8 session, provides generous commuters a way to help jeepney drivers recoup earnings that would decline as social distancing rules mandate public utility vehicles (PUVs) to carry only half their normal loads.

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Only a limited number of PUVs is allowed on the streets because of movement restrictions still prevailing.

At the height of the Luzon lockdown in April, as many as 333 jeepneys were granted special travel permits by the city government to carry people during designated market days.

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Some residents agreed to pay P20 per trip, instead of the mandated P9 fare at the time under an informal fare arrangement between neighborhoods and jeepneys. But the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) cracked down on this deal.

To help drivers cope, the Baguio government provided each of them P600 in weekly subsidies until the end of May. The City Council had also requested LTFRB for a quarantine fare rate, but has not received a response from the agency.

The number of jeepneys has since risen to almost 500 to serve residents and workers in 128 villages, when more businesses and offices opened under a modified general community quarantine starting June 1.

The proposed tip box ordinance would apply “while physical distancing is still enforced in public utility vehicles, and while awaiting the issuance of new guidelines allowing the full operational capacity of PUVs (public utility vehicles) or prescribing a new fare matrix to address the plights of the transport group,” according to a council release.

At a June 10 news conference, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said jeepney associations have agreed to allow every member a turn each week to transport passengers so everyone has a chance to earn during the quarantine.

But the LTFRB will inspect every vehicle to ensure their roadworthiness, as well as each unit’s compliance with health regulations, he announced.

Baguio jeepneys have set up plastic-covered compartments for their passengers.

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Magalong said the city government had also urged each association to form transport cooperatives in preparation for the mandated PUV modernization program, although purchasing new jeepneys may take time because of the current crisis.

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TAGS: #COVID19PH, Baguio, Coronavirus, coronavirus Philippines, drivers, fare, jeepneys, passengers, Routes, TIP, Transportation
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