The riding public had high expectations of good, comfortable, and more behaved or disciplined drivers and conductors when the new and fully air-conditioned modern public utility jeeps (MPUJs) were introduced as a replacement to the old and rickety traditional PUJs (TPUJs) in compliance with the law on the modernization of our public transport system.

The government gave the endorsement to the transport cooperatives to operate the MPUJs. The Department of Transportation has encouraged PUJ operators and drivers to shift and go with the modernization of our public transport system by organizing themselves into a cooperative and acquiring MPUJs to replace their old PUJs. There was opposition from some of the PUJ operators and drivers but it just died down.

Indeed, as confirmed by the commuters, the MPUJs are spacious, air-conditioned and so it is comfortable, especially in these times when travel is less convenient because of the heavy traffic. But what the riding public did not realize is that most, if not all the drivers of the MPUJs used to be the drivers of TPUJs. So it’s no wonder then, that some of them are undisciplined, continuing to drive as if they are “kings of the road.”

There have been several complaints aired by commuters that take the MPUJs on a daily basis about the behavior of the drivers and the conductors. Motorists also complain about the rowdy manner the MPUJ drivers drive. Months ago, I was almost hit by an MPUJ that suddenly cut into my lane. When I remonstrated, the driver shouted invectives. It is indeed difficult to teach new tricks to an old dog. These rude MPUJ drivers fit the adage, “old dogs with new collar.”

A certain Mel B. Cortes wrote to SunStar Cebu on May 26, 2023, describing the drivers and conductors of MPUJs as “uncivilized.” He called on transport cooperatives to conduct regular seminars “to teach their drivers and conductors how a civilized person should act.”

In part, let me quote Cortes’ letter, which should be a wakeup call to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and traffic enforcers.

“I work in a business process outsourcing company at Cebu I.T. Park in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City. Since I do not own a car or motorcycle, I commute to and from my workplace.

“I often ride a modernized public utility vehicle (MPUV). It is convenient because it has more space compared to traditional jeepneys and multicabs. Another feature that makes it a convenient ride for an ordinary worker like me is the air conditioning system.

“However, there is an inconvenience that I experience almost every day, and that is the uncivilized way some drivers drive and the brash attitude of some conductors.

“There are drivers who suddenly step on the brakes, throwing off passengers.

“Some drivers act like they are driving small vehicles — they drive so fast, beyond the speed limit. This is especially true around midnight when there are only a few vehicles on the road, and the traffic enforcers are already asleep.

“As for some male conductors, they collect fares in an impolite manner—they sound angry. Some of them make sexist comments whenever pretty women or gay men step inside or disembark the vehicle.

“Some drivers and conductors are somewhat racist too—they make fun of commuters from other countries, particularly Indian and Korean nationals.”

Could we have a reaction from LTO Director Emmanuel Victor Caindec on this matter? I know there are others who have the same experience as Mel Cortes when it comes to “uncivilized” MPUJ drivers and conductors.