THE government will next month begin phasing out old jeepneys in line with its program to modernize public utility vehicles, an official said Wednesday.
“We will begin taking out the problematic PUVs beginning January,” said Thomas Orbos, general manager of the Metro Manila Development Authority and Transportation undersecretary for roads and infrastructures.
He said the transition period given by the government for jeepney owners and operators to buy new units was three years beginning January 2018.
“The more you delay your transition to a modern version of the program, the more you lose, because people will definitely pick the modern [ones], the more convenient and safer public transportation,” Orbos said.
The government will be spending P843 million next year to jump-start the nationwide implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization program.
Lawmakers said the initial financing for the program, which was launched in June this year, had been included in the 2018 budget of the Transport department.
All PUVs that are more than 15 years old will be phased out and replaced with new models equipped with automated fare collection systems, digital security and dashboard cameras, Wi-Fi Internet connectivity, GPS tracking devices and speed limiters.
A P2.5-billion special financing plan from two state-run banks will extend low-cost loans to enable PUV operators and drivers to acquire the newly designed passenger buses, vans and jeepneys.
The new PUVs will run either on Euro 4-compliant diesel engines that discharge 68 percent less particulate matter, 57 percent less nitrogen oxides and 50 percent less carbon monoxide, or on electric batteries that have zero exhaust gas emissions.
The modernization program also reforms the franchising system to strengthen control over PUVs.
Fewer new franchises will be issued to PUV operators and drivers, and they will be compelled to organize themselves into cooperatives or firms to build up accountability, enforcement and compliance.
In the case of jeepneys, each operator must have a minimum of 10 units to obtain a single franchise. Drivers running their own units will have to consolidate themselves into groups of at least 10 members to get a franchise.
The Transport department is also expected to draw up new PUV routes in consultation with local government units.
An academy will help reeducate PUV operators and drivers on basic road discipline, courtesy and safety.
The PUV modernization program has become controversial owing to the strong opposition of jeepney operators and drivers belonging to the Pinagisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide.
PISTON has vowed to stage monthly transport strikes unless the group is granted a dialogue with President Rodrigo Duterte.
In response, the President has warned that the vehicles of defiant operators and drivers will be towed away.