TACLOBAN CITY-Lowly Filipino public utility vehicle drivers and their support organizations have heaved a temporary relief after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. approved the extension for franchise consolidation of jeepney drivers and operators under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) to April 30, 2024.

“There is success in unified action. Today, thousands of drivers and small operators, and even millions of commuters, have reaped initial success. Because of our tireless collective action and determination to defend our livelihoods and rights, we pushed the Marcos regime to extend the deadline to April 30,” said Mody Floranda, Piston national president.
“But extension alone is not enough. Let’s continue to act until the business and foreign PUVMP is scrapped and fight for progressive, patriotic, and inclusive public transportation!” he added.

“This extension is to give an opportunity to those who expressed intention to consolidate but did not make the previous cut-off,” Marcos said in a statement on Wednesday (Jan. 24).
The government earlier set Dec. 31, 2023 as the original deadline for the consolidation of drivers and operators.

However, the government decided again that unconsolidated jeepneys and UV Express units only have until Jan. 31, 2024 “to operate in routes with less than 60 percent consolidation rate.”

According to the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), public utility vehicles totaling 190,000 units, comprising of UV Express, public utility jeepneys, mini-buses, and buses, have availed of consolidation.

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) it said that as of mid-January, UV express was able to achieve 82 percent consolidation; jeepneys, 75 percent; buses, 86 percent; and mini-buses, 45 percent, citing a report from the LTFRB.

Since the roll-out of the modernization program in 2017, a total of 1,728 cooperatives and corporations with 262,344 members were established, PCO added.

The consolidation or the formation of transport cooperatives or other legal entities will allow drivers and operators “to access benefits such as government subsidies and access to credit facilities, among others, to aid in modernizing their fleets and run the modernized units in a systematic and predictable manner,” the LTFB emphasized in its modernization campaign.(RONALD O. REYES)