Gov’t ready for looming transport strike

MANILA — The government is ready to provide assistance to passengers that will be affected by the strike that will be staged by various transport groups to protest the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) member and spokesperson Aileen Lizada said the Joint Quick Response Team (JQRT) is now activated in preparation for the transport strike.

“The JQRT is already activated, we are ready for the strike,” Lizada said in a text message to PNA on Monday.

Among the members of the JQRT are the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Office of Transport Security (OTS), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and LTFRB.

Militant transport groups are set to stage their demonstrations in the next two weeks to protest the phasing out of old jeepneys through the PUV modernization program.

The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) is set to stage a rally on September 20 to 21 while the Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator ng Pilipinas Genuine Organization (Stop and Go) will hold protest action on September 25 and 26.

The LTFRB will deploy private buses and public vehicles in various staging points in Metro Manila while the MMDA dispatch these based on CCTV and reports from the ground.

PNP-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) will monitor areas where harassment and threats against drivers and operators that will not participate in the strike are reported. Enforcers of the MMDA and LTFRB will likewise be on the ground to monitor participants.

The PUV Modernization Program aims to enhance commuter experience by upgrading vehicles to meet safety, energy efficiency and emission standards through overhauling of the public transportation system.

It aims to phase out old and dilapidated PUVs. Franchised units should either be powered by Euro 4 engines or electrically powered engines with solar panels for roofs.

Other proposed specifications include closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, a GPS navigation system, an Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS), speed limiters, dashboard cameras, and Wi-Fi.

A major component of the PUV Modernization Program is the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG) which introduces reforms in granting of franchises by implementing new route planning rules and improved standards for operators and vehicles.

Under the OFG, public transport routes will be planned by local government units (LGUs) based on the current and projected travel patterns in their respective areas. These routes will be contained in the Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) of LGUs which will serve as basis for franchise issuance by the LTFRB. Aerol John Pateña/PNA-northboundasia.com