By Alexandria San Juan
Amid issues and criticisms hurled at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board this past year, the agency remains staunch in pushing through with their programs for the riding public.
Among these programs is the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP), which LTFRB chairman Atty. Martin Delgra III tagged as the flagship project of the government for the transportation sector, after it was launched in 2017.
“We are very focused on the PUVMP. It is actually the core program of the LTFRB for land-based public transport under the Department of Transportation (DOTr),” Delgra said.
3,393 PUVs under PUVMP
During the program’s transition period this 2018, a total of 132 franchises covering 3,393 modern units are now operating under the PUVMP.
In the total modernized units, 2,297 are public utility jeepneys, 424 are buses or mini-buses, and 624 are UV Express.
According to Delgra, the modernized PUVs are now plying routes all over the country, among them in Manila, Tacloban, Cebu, Bohol, Caraga, General Santos, Iloilo, and Cagayan De Oro.
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade earlier reiterated that the PUVMP will continue to push through with no delays and assured that they are all set to implement it.
“We shall continue with the PUVMP. For the sake of this country, let us have political will. No delays, no postponement, let us get this done,” Tugade said following reports that the program will be postponed or delayed.
Meanwhile, the LTFRB chief bared that there are still a lot of concerns that the program is facing, such as the issue on the supply, but he said they will be pushing the implementation of the project.
“Secretary Tugade did not limit the supply on the local car manufacturers. Meaning, we are open to other suppliers even from outside the country as long as they comply with technical standards of the PUVMP: euro-4 [compliant] if not electric, the technical standards of the dimension, CCTV, dashcam, GPS should also be there,” Delgra said in an interview.
Currently, there are at least 20 local and international companies that are manufacturing modernized units for the program.
As the program continues to be implemented until the deadline on 2020, the LTFRB said it is also encouraging PUV drivers and operators to consolidate and modernized their fleet.
While Delgra said they are not looking into a specific target of numbers of PUVs to be modernized next year, he shared that they definitely want it to increase “substantially.”
Pantawid Pasada Program
In July this year, the DOTr through the LTFRB with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Energy (DoE), and the Land Bank of the Philippines launched the Pantawid Pasada Program, a fuel subsidy program for jeepney drivers.
Under the program, which is one of the government’s flagship social mitigation measures, fuel vouchers in the form of cash cards will be provided to qualified franchise holders of PUJs to help them cope with increasing pump prices brought by the tax reform law.
The fuel cards, containing P5,000 each, were processed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and funded through the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
Out of the 171,836 target of beneficiaries around the country for this year, a total of 71,519 cards were only distributed or a 41.62 percent completion rate of the program as of December 18.
Based on the data of the LTFRB, a total of 12,653 out of the 35,644 beneficiaries in Metro Manila already claimed their fuel cards since the start of the distribution last July.
Metro Manila or the National Capital Region has the highest numbers of recipients followed by Region 4 and 3 with a total of 27,787 and 24,717 available cards to be released, respectively.
According to Delgra, those who were not able to claim their fuel cards this year may still claim next year on top of a higher subsidy for 2019.
Pre-determined fare matrix
Meanwhile, this year was also a roller coaster ride for the riding public and PUJ drivers when the minimum fare increased from P8 to P9 to P10, the highest minimum jeepney fare recorded, and rollback to P9.
In July, the Board has approved a provisional fare increase of P1 on passenger jeepneys in NCR, and Regions 3 and 4, raising the minimum fare to P10.
Three months after, the LTFRB approved on October the petition for P2 fare hike filed by some transport groups in September 2017 that increases the minimum fare to P10.
Barely a month after its imposition in November, the LTFRB has released a resolution to order a provisional rollback of PUJ minimum fare back again to P9.
With this, Tugade has directed the agency to establish a formula-driven matrix for fare adjustment which the LTFRB abide through creating a technical working group.
“The TWG have been meeting to address some formula for fare determination. Once we are done with that, we are going to do a public consultation, then we will approve it. That will be the method by which we will be able to pre-determine the fare rates,” Delgra explained.
The LTFRB chief hopes that they will be able to release the formula by first quarter of next year.