An ode to the king
Goodbye to the iconic jeep
Is this goodbye to the traditional jeepneys that have always been part of our history? Or is this hello to a better means of transportation?
Jeepney drivers and operators continue their fight against the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP) even as the Department of Transportation (DoTr) stood firm on its full and effective implementation by June 2020.
Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) President Emeritus George San Mateo said the government should “hold and abrogate its current program.”
“It’s important to have a new (transportation) program where the transportation sector can incorporate our suggestions. The Department Order 2017-011, or the Omnibus Franchising
Guidelines which is the framework plan of the current modernization program, was formed by the government alone,” San Mateo told the Daily Tribune.
He reiterated that the drivers and operators should also have participation in crafting the framework of the PUVMP.
San Mateo said they are not opposing the modernization program itself but the requirements that make it hard for their members to meet its terms.
This includes the phasing out of jeepneys 15 years old and older, which forces them to purchase expensive units that are Euro 4-compliant, with “acceptable” exhaust emission limits and runs on renewable energy as well.
Under the provisions of the program, old jeepneys will be phased out three years after its launch. This means that by June 2020, old jeepneys should have been driven off the road.
DoTr Undersecretary Mark Richmund De Leon stood firm on the government stance that existing jeepneys should “be upgraded to comply with environmental laws.”
“The jeepney operators are complaining. Unfortunately, their franchise is a state-given privilege. The number one
requirement is that they
The jeepney operators are complaining. Unfortunately, their franchise is a state-given privilege. The number one requirement is that they provide the public service
provide the public service that they were given by the authority of the state to run this public transportation,’ De Leon argued.
The official explained that with the PUVMP, the government is not only modernizing vehicles but also streamlining the conduct of public conveyance by transport operators.
Under the provisions of the PUVMP, old jeepneys will be phased out three years after the launch of the program.
Despite heated protests, transport groups and drivers need to comply with the rules and requirements set by the government, De Leon emphasized.
But San Mateo said the acquisition of modern jeepney units would result in phasing out individual franchise operators only to be replaced by large corporations backed by big-time tycoons and politicians.
“Our known jeepney assemblers have the experience and expertise to create good jeepney chassis where we can incorporate Euro-4 exhaust emission compliant vehicles. But the government (in exchange) wants us to have the P2.5million worth of mini-buses they call the jeepney under franchise consolidation and fleet management,” San Mateo added.
Aside from affecting 800,000 small individual operators and drivers, the modernization program is also projected to prompt a fare hike to make up for the capital investment in the acquisition of new jeepney units and the construction of terminals, charging stations and parking spaces.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, for his part, already assured transport operators the government has set aside financial assistance in the form of loan and grants for drivers adversely affected by the program.
But despite the back and forth between the government and transport groups, new PUV has started rolling out in some of the streets of Metro Manila and in some provinces.
As of July, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) bared the operation of only 4,000 modernized jeepneys or well below the target 170,000 units by mid-2020.
According to De Leon, they cannot fullyimplement the program because of the continuing opposition from organized transport groups.
Jeepneys are more than just readily available cheap means of transport. They are also a cultural symbol that has witnessed both history and the everyday struggles of Filipino commuters. For many, jeepneys are symbolic representations mirroring the resilience of the Filipino people.
But behind the vibrant exterior of these jeepneys hide the outdated engine design that can be traced back to the 1940s and the persistent and perennial problems hounding the local public transportation system.
The Philippine has long been left out of the modernization of mass transports relative to its neighbors. While countries like Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong enjoy efficient and seamless public transportation systems, the Philippines remains stuck in a rut over which mode of transportation best suit commuters. It cannot be denied that the slow-paced progress in transportation has caused a myriad of problems to both the general public and the government.
The fight for better mass transportation in the Philippines is not just for the convenience of commuters but also for the economy and the environment.
So, while a subset group of Filipinos have not succeeded in stopping the modernization process, most can look back that at some point in the past they witnessed a transportation mode that owns a colorful history.
The Philippine has long been left out in the modernization of mass transport compared to its neighbors.
THE resistance and continuing protests by drivers and operators notwithstanding, it should soon be curtain time for the iconic jeepney that dominates roadways across the country. DE LEON
TRANSPORTATION chief Arthur Tugade has given assurance that funding is available for those migrating from conventional powered jeepneys to modern e-vehicles.
THE iconic, colorful and uniquely Filipino transport should soon acquire a modern environment-friendly veneer.