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Monday, July 15, 2024

‘No significant impact’ on first day of transport strike

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The government on Monday said the first day of a 12-day strike in the National Capital Region (NCR) didn’t have a significant impact on public transportation.

“There is a little impact. It is minimal and we are dealing with it,” said the chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Don Artes.

Artes said the MMDA is ready to deal with more protest actions considering the upcoming Dec. 31 deadline for public utility jeepneys to consolidate under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) or have their franchise revoked.

“We are ready to respond to any situation. We assure the people we are doing our best,” he said.

The MMDA chief asked those holding strikes to stop harassing fellow drivers who are still plying their routes.

“I am calling on the protesters, although you have the right to express your opinion, let’s not stop those who want to earn a living for their families,” he said.

The president of one of the striking groups, Manibela, said other groups that have already signed up for franchise consolidation under the PUVMP will be discussing plans for a nationwide protest as the Dec. 31 deadline looms.

Transport groups have rejected plans to modernize their jeepney units, which would cost at least P2 million per modernized jeep.

Manibela president Mar Valbuena said at least 50,000 jeepney unitscould stop servicing their routes in Metro Manila, not counting other PUVs such as UV express units, because of the program.

Transport groups Piston and Manibela are holding a nationwide strikefrom Dec. 18 to 29 in protest of the government’s deadline to consolidate jeepney operators as part of the PUVMP.

The groups believe the modernization program will deprive many PUV operators and drivers of their livelihood.

Many PUV drivers, however, took trips early Monday morning before joining the strike.

Longer LRT, MRT hours sought

Meanwhile, the MMDA said it is batting for extended operating hours of the MRT and LRT this holiday season.

Artes said the MMDA will coordinate with the Department ofTransportation (DOTr) to propose the extended operating hours of therailways to cater to mall workers and shoppers in light of the longer mall hours.

He said the MMDA is also ready to manage the anticipated heavy flow of traffic as Christmas approaches.

“During the weekend, as expected, the flow of traffic increased, butthe only traffic jams were on the (South Luzon Expressway) and (North Luzon Expressway) but within Metro Manila, that did not happen. We prepared. We planned well,” Artes said.

In other developments:

• The Land Transportation Office (LTO) has ordered its personnel torun after “colorum” or unregistered public utility vehicles and picky taxi drivers during the Christmas rush. Personnel from the LTO’s Law Enforcement Service will be deployed to malls in Metro Manila and other urban areas in the country to carry out “Oplan PASAWAY,” LTO Chief Assistant Secretary Vigor Mendoza II said, adding that there is always a surge of complaints against taxi drivers who refuse to convey travelers during the Christmas season.

* Traffic on some major roads in the National Capital Region (NCR) is now heavier as up to 15,000 more vehicles are monitored during rush hours, the MMDA said. MMDA traffic enforcement group director Victor Nuñez said a heavier volume of traffic can be observed on EDSA and C-5 even on weekends. Earlier, the MMDA said it expected a 20 percent increase in the volume of vehicles plying EDSA during the holidays.

* The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is now checking the authenticity of a video making rounds online of an “airport meter rate” shown to a tourist by a taxi driver. Spokesperson Celine Pialago said the LTFRB will investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged airport meter rate provided to the tourist. “We take such matters seriously and are committed to ensuring the integrity and fairness of taxi services. Our priority is to uphold the standards of service and protect the rights of passengers,” she said.

* Metro Pacific Tollways South (MPT South), a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), on Monday said it is ready for the anticipated surge in traffic on the Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex), including its C5 Link segment, and Cavite-Laguna Expressway (Calax) as the holiday shopping and travel season enters full swing. MPT South anticipated a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in traffic for Cavitex from the third to the last week of December, primarily from motorists in Cavite heading to Manila. The average daily traffic count is projected to increase to 208,000 vehicles, up from the current 181,000. For Calax, MPT South expects a significant 35 percent increase in traffic, rising to 47,000 from last year’s 35,000.

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