Davao City to continue High Priority Bus System


TRANSPORT modernization in Davao City will push through despite the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr’s) dropping its bid to modernize all public utility jeepneys (PUJs) in 2020.

DOTr, on Wednesday, November 20, said PUJs aging 15 years and above will no longer be totally phased out by June 30, 2020, provided they pass roadworthiness standards.

In a published Philippine News Agency article, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Communications and Commuter Affairs Goddes Hope Libiran said PUJs will be granted provisional authority to continue operations if they will undergoing annual roadworthiness checks.

However, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board - Davao Region (LTFRB-Davao) director Armand Dioso said on Friday, November 22, that DOTr’s recent pronouncement will not have an effect in the city as the local government will push through with the High Priority Bus System (HPBS), a local bus system which will soon replace more than 7,000 PUJs into more or less 1,000 buses.

“The city wants to limit bus operators so that there will be harmonization in the transport system in the city. As much as possible, they wanted that only one will be handling its operations,” Dioso told SunStar Davao in a phone interview.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said in her State of the City Address (Soca) speech in October, the HPBS is the city government’s solution to the worsening traffic situation of the city.

The mayor said from 120 to 130 PUJ routes, the HPBS will bring this down to 29 routes.

City assistant administrator Tristan Dwight Domingo previously said the initial implementation of the HPBS through the Davao Integrated Bus System (Dibs) is projected to be implemented by the first quarter of 2020, wherein 35 city-type buses will be operated in the areas of Catalunan Grande and C.P. Garcia Highway (Diversion Road).

However, he said its implementation might possibly be started in the second quarter next year, brought about by the inadequate funding for its implementation.

For the first phase, the city council already passed a P100-million funding for the HPBS, which was sourced from the Supplemental Budget 1 of 2019.

Duterte-Carpio said the fund will also include financial assistance to recompense the PUJ operators and drivers.

The mayor said she was able to get P650-million from former President and former House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo which will be used to allocate scholarships, cash-for-work programs, trainings and other livelihood projects to the affected drivers and operators.

Duterte-Carpio said she had already lobbied the funding constraints to the National Government, particularly the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and the Department of Finance (DOF), to financially assist them in the project.

Dioso, meanwhile, said the HPBS implementation is “going smooth” despite some problems.

“Ga-prepare na sila sa proposed guideline sa implementation ani. Gahuwat nalang sila sa budgeting (They are now preparing the proposed guidelines in its implementation. They are still awaiting for the budget allocation for the project),” he said.

He also said they will be able to start the selection of operators in the bus system, once the budget will be downloaded.

Dioso previously said LTFRB-Davao already stopped issuing franchise permits for new PUJ operators in 2017 due to the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) of the DOTr.

But he said operators with vehicles more than 15 years old, and not plying the routes of the HPBS could still take the roadworthy test.

He said they can issue franchises to new applicants, in case there will operators who will fail to comply.

“Naa ubang ruta na dili covered. Pwede pa namo na sila mapalinyahan, kung naa cooperatives na desidido para mag operate sa new routes na dili covered sa HPBS. I-allow namo sila if naa sila old units na pwede makatemporarily operate (There are some routes not covered with the HPBS. We can allow them to operate, if in case there will be a cooperative who is eager to operate in these new routes. We will allow them to operate temporarily),” the LTFRB official said, adding they will still be phased out once the program will fully commence.

Meanwhile, Dioso encouraged PUJ operators and drivers to form a cooperative in line with the new bus system.


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