By Ria Fernandez
More than 100 modern jeepneys validated by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) were turned over to operators at the Quirino Grandstand in Ermita, Manila on Friday morning.
Some of these have already started plying the routes in Pasay, Taguig and Pateros as early as mid-June 2018.
Each unit is equipped with dash cameras, CCTVs, and speed limiters, ensuring the safety of its passengers. It also has automatic fare collection system, WiFi, GPS, and emergency exits for persons with disabilities (PWDs) for a comfortable riding experience. Plus, it is environment-friendly as it can either be powered by a Euro-4 compliant emission system or electricity.
The Senate Employees Transport Service Cooperative (SETSCO) was the first to introduce the new jeepneys to the riding public in Metro Manila. It has 35 air-conditioned, Euro-4 compliant units traversing its initial route of Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) to Mall of Asia (MOA) and vice-versa since June 19. Passengers are only charged P10 for the first four kilometers.
“Taong 2016 when we decided to cease operation because more than 75 percent of our 35 units luma na sira na…talo operators kasi di makabyahe (We ceased our operation in 2016 because over 75 percent of our 35 units were already old and dilapidated. Operators were losing because we couldn’t go on a trip),” said Remedios Venturina, chairperson, SETSCO.
“Now, with the program we embrace, panalo mananakay, panalo rin kaming mga operators modernong sasakyan ng mga jeepney—safe, kumportable mga mananakay, yung sasakyan namin ngayon mas may chance kumita (Modern jeepneys are win-win for passengers and operators because they are safe, comfortable, and opens us to more chance of earning),” she added.
SETSCO has seven years to pay the vehicles from Isuzu worth P1.7 million each with an annual 6-percent interest rate. The government has subsidized P80,000 per unit.
However, although supportive of the modernization, Efren de Luna of Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO) said the implementation of the program must be gradual and not rushed. He added that a vehicle must fit the physical condition of the area where it would ply, instead of limiting their choices to models that were released.
“Meron ako supplier 24-seater, P800,000. Umikot ako sa Mindanao, karamihan doon multicab kaya multicab lang ang ita-transfer natin. Di kami pilipitin sa P2 million (I found a supplier of a 24-seater vehicle worth P800,000. I went to Mindanao and saw multicab as the primary public transport. We should not be forced to buy the P2 million),” he said.
In response, Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Thomas Orbas said:
“Ang gobyerno naman natin laging pinapakinggan daing ng ating mga mamamayan lalo mga small operator pero ang pinakamahalaga ang mga mananakay (The government always listens to the struggles of its people especially our small operators; but the most important is the riding public).