By Iñigo S. Roces
Photos by DOTr
Tacloban is the first city in the country to experience the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP). The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) launched the initial implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) at Rizal Park in Tacloban City, Leyte last Jan. 23.
The new e-jeepneys, featuring side loading, equipped with dash cams, CCTV cameras and an automatic fare collection system, will be plying newly-opened missionary routes in the city.
Three franchises with 15 units each were opened for each route, or a total of 45 units for the new missionary routes. All three routes begin from the New Transport Terminal to housing sites in Tacloban such as Villa Sofia, Sangyaw Village, New Hope Village, New Kawayan Villa Diana, North Hill Arbours, Guadalupe Heights, Greendale Subdivision, St. Francis Village, Cabalawan Ridgeview Subdivision, UNDP housing site, Lions Ville, and Knightsridge.
Around 15,000 families, or 90,000 individuals mostly from coastal communities, in the resettlement areas in the city will be benefiting from the initial implementation of the modernization program.
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, in his message delivered by Assistant Secretary for Road Transport Mark de Leon, described the launching of the initial implementation of PUVMP in the city as “massive and inclusive.”
“There could be no better place to do it but here in Tacloban… The whole world knows that when it comes to faith, resiliency, and the indomitable spirit, the people of Tacloban are the perfect example of this,” Tugade said, referring to the devastation brought by super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
Sec. Tugade said the PUVMP, one of the biggest non-infrastructure programs of President Duterte, seeks to “provide accessibility to the farthest barrios previously unreached by our transportation system.”
He said that both the DOTr and the LTFRB are doing everything in making the PUVMP a reality.
“Modernization plans are without challenges. In fact, they can be very painful, but the DOTr and the LTFRB are doing everything to make the transition easier,” Tugade said, noting the several financial packages offered by the government to assist both the operators and drivers.
For his part, LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III said the launching of the initial implementation of the PUVMP is the President’s gift to the people of Tacloban.
“He (President Duterte) was among the first LGUs to come to your aid. He quietly organized a convoy to come to Tacloban not only with relief goods, but also with first responders to help the people of Tacloban in dire need,” Chairman Delgra said of efforts of then Mayor of Davao City, and now President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, continues to assist the residents of the Yolanda-ravaged city.
The agencies see Tacloban as a template of the PUVMP for other cities and municipalities in the country, following the one route, one franchise policy.
“As much as possible there would only be one franchise for every route. Ito po ang nangyariditosa Tacloban. Tatlongruta, tig-iisangprangkisasabawatruta,” he said.
Also present in the event were Tacloban City Vice Mayor, Jerry “Sambo” Yaokasin; City Administrator, Atty. Irene Tui;DOTr Chief of Staff,Artemio Tuazon, Jr.;Asec., Anthony Gerard Gonzales from the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas; NHA project manager for Region 8, Marilyn Lauzon; LTFRB BM, Ronaldo Corpus; LTFRB Regional Directors, other officials of govt offices in Region 8.
The ceremony concluded with the ribbon cutting, blessing of the jeepneys and sending-off of the residents back to their homes. It ended with a motorcade of the solar e-jeepneys around the Tacloban downtown area.