On PUV modernization program

TACLOBAN CITY– Josue Laudino, a public passenger driver for over 20 years, has no choice but to enroll his group to the PUV modernization program, albeit with reservations.
After all, joining the PUV modernization program, would not only entail several papers and documents but is costly, the president of the 38-member Leyte Transportation Cooperative, said.

“We have no choice but to obey and follow this program of the government,” the 60-year-old man said in Jan. 3 interview.

According to him, they need at least P2.4 million to P2.8 million per ‘modernized’ unit, a huge amount compared to the ‘traditional’ unit of just P200,000.

Each member of their group has to shell out P5,000 as a membership fee for their cooperative.

The group of drivers, whose routes cover Tacloban and the nearby town of Palo, Leyte, need to form a cooperative for them to avail bank loan being offered by the government and buy the required modern fleet of public utility vehicles (PUVs).

On Jan. 3, Laudino and his group went to the regional office of the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to submit the needed documents and for them to secure provisional authority to continue to ply streets.

Veronica Reposar, transportation development office chief of the LTFRB-8, out of the 3,692 PUVs, 3,480 or 94.25% have been ‘consolidated’ for PUV modernization.

“Eastern Visayas has one of the highest consolidated rates at over 94 percent, with the remaining six percent, opted not to join for some reasons,” she said in an interview.
According to Reposar, unless extended, the LTFRB has until December 21 of this year to accept the application for consolidation, otherwise, those who opted not to join the program or have no provisional authority would be penalized up to P12,000 and cancellation of their franchise.

She also said that based on their information on the ‘grounds’, passengers in Eastern Visayas are not affected by this consolidation saying they have not received reports of passengers being inconvenienced.

“We go the grounds to check if our passengers are affected on this program like difficulties in commuting. And based on our investigation, there is none,” Reposar said.

She said that since the modernization of the public system was introduced in the country in 2017, around 700 buses and ‘jeepneys’ across the region, are now Euro 4-compliant or with an electric engine to help lessen the problem of air pollution.

These vehicles are also equipped with CCTV cameras, speed limiters, PS monitors, and even Wi-Fi connections, among others.

But the most important of the PUV modernization program is that the drivers would now be salaried and not just to be paid on a ‘boundary’ basis.

“Our drivers will now be receiving salaries and not just on a boundary basis. They will receive other benefits being enjoyed by a regular worker or employee,” she said.