NEW, environment-friendly public utility jeepney (PUJ) models will be put on display sometime this month to assure the public that the Duterte administration is ready to implement the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), according to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-Northern Mindanao.

President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that starting January 2018, old PUJs must be replaced with jeepneys that are either electric, solar-powered or Euro 4-compliant as part of his administration’s transport modernization initiative.

LTFRB-Northern Mindanao director Aminoden Guro said operators and drivers can swap their aging and dilapidated jeepneys with the new PUJs at the display center as manufacturers have expressed interest in mass-producing these e-jeeps in compliance with the government’s PUVMP.

“The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the [LTFRB] are continuously engaging all stakeholders and key industry players [in the transport sector] in order to make the approach holistic and inclusive,” the DOTr said in a statement.

The DOTr said the PUV modernization is “long overdue” and that the past administrations had long wanted to modernize the transportation, “but every time people wave flags saying that the program is anti-poor, we take a step back. Hence, the present sorry state of our road transportation. This has to stop.”

Guro said it’s high time for the country to modernize its mass transit system that is efficient and clean.

Since the transport sector in the region has put a resistance against the PUVMP in Mindanao, Guro said he wanted to the program to have its pilot launch here with the new public vehicle units on display for everyone to see.

“Most people will only believe if they have seen it. That’s why we want the people to see that these e-jeeps are safe aside from being fuel-efficient,” he said, adding that the new PUJ models will have more seating capacity and passengers will be using electronic cards in paying their fare. These e-jeeps are also installed with Global Positioning System (GPS). There are also units that are air-conditioned.

“We have planned, prepared, and now ready for implementation, so that the program will be rolling out within this administration’s term, addressing all issues such as route rationalization and PUV manufacturing,” he said.

For the smooth implementation of the modernization program, Guro has urged operators and drivers to support the PUVMP. “You only have two options: Cooperate and benefit from this program, or oppose and get left behind.”

Transport groups in the region such as the Solidarity of Transport Alliance in Northern Mindanao-Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Starex-Piston) are worried that the PUVMP will not be affordable to the operators and drivers.

They are also apprehensive that the new PUJs are not durable, especially those that ply long-distance routes.