MANILA — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) officially launched Monday (June 19) the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program which seeks to provide safe, comfortable and environmentally sustainable mode of public transport to commuters.
The program aims to enhance commuter experience by upgrading vehicles to meet safety, energy efficiency and emission standards through overhauling of the public transportation system.
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.
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade has signed the OFG guidelines with Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) officer- in- charge Catalino Cuy in Camp Aguinaldo and witnessed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Martin Delgra, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Danilo Lim, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, as well as other officials from the DOTr and representatives from transport groups.
The release of the guidelines has paved way for the lifting of the moratorium on the acceptance of new applications/petitions for the issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience because of irregularities in the granting of franchises.
The moratorium which was implemented since 2003 has increased the demand for transportation causing the proliferation of unauthorized franchises, inadequacy of public transport supply and overall traffic and safety problems in road-based public transport.
“I’m appealing for the cooperation and support of the riding public, operators and drivers on this initiative of the government to ensure a safe and modern public transport in the country,” Tugade said in an interview with reporters.
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.
The LTFRB will require existing operators to consolidate into cooperatives or consortiums to gain better access to resources, share operations and maintenance costs and maximize profits thru efficient vehicle dispatch.
The PUV Modernization Program also 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.
The DOTr has yet to release specific requirements for buses, vans and jeepneys.
The department has also coordinated with the DOF, DTI, government financial institutions and private banks to implement a special loan facility that would provide PUV operators and drivers low equity, low interest rates and longer periods.
Small operators can consolidate to pool their resources, meet minimum credit requirements and share the cost of operations and maintenance.
Moreover, drivers will have the security of monthly salary and benefits as well as reduced working hours. They will also be less exposed to air pollution and other health hazards due to the modernized vehicle specifications.
The LTFRB has also created a driving academy for PUV drivers and operators to inculcate road safety lessons to lessen accidents on the road and proper etiquette when dealing with passengers.
Existing franchises will continue to operate for the next two to three years upon issuance of the guidelines.
DOTr will also implement social protection measures to mitigate any adverse impacts on the vulnerable members of the public transport sector in consultation with LTFRB and other affected stakeholders. Aerol Patena/PNA-northboundasia.com