500 MPUV drivers 'fear income loss' after CBRT package 1's completion

500 MPUV drivers 'fear income loss' after CBRT package 1's completion
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AT LEAST 500 drivers of modern public utility vehicles (MPUVs) might be displaced if the operation of Cebu Bus Rapid Transit’s (CBRT) first package pushes through in July this year.

To protect their livelihood, Cebu City Councilor Rey Gealon, who chairs the Cebu City Traffic Management Coordination Committee, proposed allowing MPUV units to utilize the CBRT’s first package route instead of procuring new buses.

Ellen Maghanoy, chairperson of Federation of Cebu Transport Cooperatives (FCTC), welcomed Gealon’s idea, saying it could benefit the drivers and operators, even if temporarily, while waiting for the entire CBRT routes to be completed.

Maghanoy said 200 MPUVs serving the route covered by CBRT Package 1 rely on a pool of around 500 drivers. These vehicles operate with a system where two or three drivers take turns driving a single unit.

The FCTC leader said in a phone interview Sunday, April 21, 2024, that MPUV units from Lahug Apas Transport Cooperative, Kalunasan Operators and Drivers Transport Cooperative, Banawa Transport Cooperative, and Mabolo Transport Cooperative are the first ones to be affected once the CBRT Package 1 becomes operational.

“Sa pagkakaron, gipangkulbaan ang atong mga primary coops kay daghan mag coops affected if ever naa na ang BRT. Kahibaw nata nga ang atong mga modern jeeps puros inutang (Right now, our primary coops are anxious because they will be affected if ever BRT starts operating. We are all aware that our modern jeep units were purchased with loans),” said Maghanoy.

CBRT’s first package covers the 2.38-kilometer route from Osmeña Blvd. to Cebu South Bus Terminal.

SunStar Cebu sent a text message to BRT project manager Norvin Imbong on Sunday to inquire if there will be buses deployed after CBRT Package 1’s completion. Imbong has not responded as of this writing.

Not enough

Maghanoy said even now that drivers can operate on their full routes, their income is not enough. She anticipates a significant decline in income with the BRT’s operation, as passenger traffic could be diverted.

This same concern from FCTC was raised by Gealon during the City Council’s regular session last Wednesday, April 17. He pointed out that MPUV drivers gave up over 20 years driving traditional jeepneys to comply with the government’s PUV modernization program, only to potentially be displaced by the BRT project.

“Sila nga ni-comply sa modernization, sila sad ang ma-dislodge kay di naman sila patadlason sa route gitadlasan sa una (The ones who complied with modernization might be the ones dislodged because they won’t be allowed on their usual routes),” said Gealon.

“Kini sila daghan na kaayo (There are so many of them). They have invested so much, sacrificed their livelihoods, personal and family’s lifetime savings para maka-come up lang og pangbayad (just to be able to afford payments),” he added.

Gealon said once the CBRT operates, MPUVs, along with other traditional PUVs, will only be allowed on feeder roads, making it doubtful they can earn enough income. A feeder road refers to roads that are smaller local roads that will connect passengers from interior barangays and streets to the main CBRT line.

Each MPUV unit costs around P3 million.


The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) approved a further extension of the target completion date for the CBRT project from 2025 to 2027 last November 2023.

Maghanoy hopes local transportation cooperatives will be given the opportunity to operate on the CBRT route during its initial operations while waiting for the project’s full completion in 2027.

This, she believes, would allow drivers to maintain their income, and by the time the entire BRT system is implemented, most of their loans might already be paid off.

“For the initial implementation, we hope modern jeeps will be given a chance, even if for only six months or one year, with a gradual transition to buses. This way, they can benefit instead of being displaced, especially since they only complied with the modernization program,” said Maghanoy.

Imbong, in a text message to SunStar Cebu on Sunday, said 18-meter buses were approved by Neda to traverse the entire route of CBRT.

Regarding the possible displacement of MPUV and traditional PUV drivers, Imbong said a new Local Public Transportation Route Plan for Cebu City is being developed.

“Old routes will be changed taking into consideration the BRT route,” Imbong said.

There have been calls from local officials to stop or suspend the civil works of the remaining packages of CBRT recently; however, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the mass transportation project must continue.

The first phase of CBRT is composed of four package. The second package will cover a distance of 10.8 kilometers, from South Road Properties (SRP) in Barangay Mambaling and Escario St., Capitol, and Gorordo Ave. The third package will cover a distance of 18 kilometers, from Cebu IT Park to Barangay Talamban and from the SRP to Talisay City; and the fourth package will cover a distance of four kilometers, featuring a dedicated lane from barangays Bulacao to Mambaling, extension of the alignment from Ayala to Cebu IT Park, a rotunda underneath the Mambaling flyover, and the conversion of a mixed traffic lane along the coastal road at the SRP and F. Vestil St.

The CBRT project is expected to cater to 60,000 passengers daily in its first year of operation, and up to 160,000 passengers once fully operational, according to the Department of Transportation. / JJL


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