PUBLIC utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers can only heave a sigh of relief, albeit temporarily, as the full implementation of the first phase of Davao City's High Priority Bus System (HPBS) will be delayed for a few months. But the project is expected to still go full blast before the year ends.
The project was supposed to kick off this first quarter of 2020 but some unavoidable circumstances may have arose, thus, derailing it although Davao City administrator Tristan Dwight Domingo bared during Thursday's iSpeak media forum at the City Hall of Davao that pre-implementation activities began last year.
He said they could not determine the specific date in the phasing out of jeepneys on the roads as it also depends on the implementation of the bus system.
Domingo cited the difficulty of the bus modernization project's franchising mechanism, which is entirely different from that of franchising PUJs. But they are currently finalizing franchising requirements with the Department of Transportation (DOTr), which will be issuing the franchising rites through the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
The bus modernization project aims to keep the public transportation system efficient (due to the worsening traffic situation here) and environmentally friendly by 2020. However, this requires a higher and more stringent standard of service from the operators compared to those with the jeepneys.
Yet, the fact remains that not all displaced PUJ drivers and operators will be able jump to this bus system. So while they await their fate (as not all routes will be phased out at once but gradually), they can make good use of the time to capitalize their units.
A total of 6,985 PUJ operators are accredited by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board while 12,264 PUJ drivers are accredited by the City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO). The City Government of Davao has assured them social compensation benefits that will come from the P650 million social pension budget of the 17th Congress and the P100 million under the city's Supplemental Budget 1.