LTFRB mulls letting traditional PUJs operate after modern PUJs resume operations
MANILA, Philippines – Traditional jeepneys which have been banned during the quarantine period due to COVID-19 may be allowed to operate in Metro Manila and other areas once all modern jeepneys have resumed operations and if such services are not enough.
This was the assurance given by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Sunday, who said that traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJs) and UV Express service vans are still not out of the picture.
According to LTFRB chair Martin Delgra, modern PUJs — which will gradually start operating again starting Monday, June 22 — were prioritized because of its structure that can allow physical distancing, to avoid coronavirus transmissions.
“Inuuna po natin itong mga modern jeepney, based on the principle on the hierarchy of public transport dahil po unang-una, makikita niyo naman ‘yong diperensya doon sa modern jeepney doon sa traditional. Mas malawak ‘yong space and the capacity is higher than traditional jeepney,” Delgra said in an online press briefing.
(We prioritized modern jeepneys, based on the principle on the hierarchy of public transport because we can clearly see the difference between the modern jeepneys and the traditional ones. Modern PUJs have a bigger space and a higher seating capacity.)
“So having said that, ‘yong modern jeepney ang inuna natin (we prioritized modern jeepneys). We are still within the timeline of that we’ll be able to deploy traditional jeepney as well as UV Express, we’re looking at the timeline of perhaps later this week or next week, but definitely within the month,” he added.
As of now, there are 4,600 buses operating in over 31 routes.
Delgra reiterated that traditional PUJs are at the lower end of the spectrum because of the seating structure, where people are seated facing each other — compared to modern PUJs where seats are similar to buses. He also noted that modern PUJs provide a higher chance of contact tracing because of their systems.
“This is important to know, itong mga (these) modern jeepneys, we’re not only talking about units, we’re talking about the system on how they are being operated, ang ibig ko pong sabihin fleet-managed po ito, mga driver ay swelduhan, meron pong mga amenities for cashless transaction pati po ‘yong mga GPS for purposes of contract tracing,” he explained.
(The modern PUJs are fleet-managed, drivers are paid regular salaries, and there are several amenities like cashless transactions, and global positioning devices for contact tracing.)
“Hindi lang po ang tinitignan natin dito is ‘yong bagong unit as against, as comparing it to a traditional unit kung hindi pati na rin po, and more importantly, ‘yong pagpapatakbo nito sa daan,” he added.
(We’re not just looking if units are new, as against comparing it to a traditional unit but also, the way trips are being managed.)
Earlier, LTFRB announced that they would be opening 15 routes in Metro Manila starting Monday, to ease the commuting woes of workers going to and coming from their workplaces. The ban on public transport was lifted when the National Capital Region transitioned into a general community quarantine despite the still rising number of COVID-19 cases.
However, although the quarantine restrictions were lifted, PUJs and UV Express vehicles were left out, with only rail systems, buses, and taxis allowed. This led some traditional PUJ operators and driver to protest the lack of income in the midst of lockdown.
At least six protesters from transport group Piston were arrested while staging a demonstration in Caloocan City. Of the six arrested drivers, two have tested positive for the coronavirus, which they presume to have been contracted inside the detention facilities.
Last Friday, think-tank organization Ibon Foundation claimed that PUJ drivers have already lost P76,000 worth of possible income since the lockdown started — or around P26,000 per month.
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