A party-list lawmaker described as a “most urgent concern” Thursday the return on the road of more public utility vehicles, saying that this will address the current economic difficulties of drivers and even commuters.
DUMPER-PTDA partylist Rep. Claudine Diana D. Bautista urged pandemic-response decision makers to continue opening venues for dialogues with stakeholders in the transport industry to determine ways of addressing the concerns of commuters and PUV drivers.
“I strongly urge an immediate increase in number of permitted PUVs specifically, jeepneys, buses, taxis, TNVS, UV Express, tricycles, and if possible motorcycle taxis, as well as increased operational capacity for our LRT, MRT, and PNR, all of which shall observe strict proper health protocols,” the lady solon who represents the transport industry said in a privilege speech.
Bautista, vice chairperson of the House Committee on Transportation, stressed that she does not object to the IATF decision to reduce the one-meter physical distancing protocol for PUV passengers which was proposed by the Department of Transportation.
However, she pointed out that objections aired by various sectors, including the country’s political leaders, medical experts and commuter groups, should also be heard.
The House assistant majority leader stressed that the need for the resumption of more PUV operations to the streets is an urgent concern among both the economically displaced drivers and commuters.
According to her, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has revealed that more than 232,962 PUV drivers nationwide have been directly hit by the pandemic.
"While some have been allowed to operate, a great majority of our PUV drivers have been forced to stop working and some have resorted to begging on the streets,” lamented Bautista.
She pointed out, however, that the DSWD, as well as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the Department of Transportation, had acted promptly address the plight of the displaced transport sector members.
So far, 186,940 drivers of PUVs, TNVS, PUJs, motorcycle taxis, and tricycles in the National Capital Region have received the financial assistance granted by government. On the other hand, the LTFRB allowed an additional 1,159 jeepneys with 28 new Metro routes.
“We recognize the effort of the DOTr, LTFRB, and IATF in considering the gradual increase of public transportation on the road. However, public transport supply remains insufficient. The supply simply cannot match the demand of commuters,” Bautista stated.
The partylist solon said: “It is our responsibility now to look for ways to balance our present situation. This proposed measure of allowing more PUVs that observe health protocols to operate is one way of addressing this pressing concern.”