THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 is confident that jeepney franchise holders in Cebu will consolidate before the Dec. 31, 2023 deadline despite calls from transport groups to postpone it.
The LTFRB recently issued Memorandum Circular 2023-052 that will allow non-consolidated jeepneys to ply routes where less than 60 percent of units have consolidated.
LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. told SunStar Cebu on Saturday, Dec. 30, that they cannot yet determine the number of jeepneys that will be allowed to travel certain routes because the consolidation is still ongoing, adding that they will get exact figures after Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.
“Dili ni namo makuha unless matapos gyud ugma, 31. Pagka Jan. 1 didto man na namo ma evalaute unsang mga rota ang sulod sa board resolution,” said Montealto.
(We won’t have the numbers until Dec. 31 is over. On Jan. 1, we will evaluate the routes that will be covered by the board resolution.)
According to their initial assessment, many of the franchises in Central Visayas, particularly in Cebu, have consolidated because cooperatives have complied with the directive of the government’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program.
“Tanan man nag-consolidate (All have consolidated),” Montealto said.
In a worst-case scenario, Montealto said, a fleet of modern jeepneys, or 20 percent of around 1,400 existing modern jeepneys, can be deployed in other routes and is on standby along with mini buses from private companies to make sure no commuters are stranded.
The Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) had warned that Cebu would suffer from a transportation crisis if the government did not postpone or cancel the mandatory consolidation policy under the PUV Modernization Program. The transport group reiterated that the policy would have a negative impact on the livelihood of operators and drivers of traditional jeepneys.
The franchise consolidation policy is set to affect 200 active members of Piston Cebu and other jeepney operators and drivers.
Piston Cebu president Greg Perez had said that if the government wanted to modernize the transportation sector, it should find a better way to implement it. He said the transition should be slow so no operator or driver would be left behind.
“One of our calls is to cancel the policy,” he had said.
Last Dec. 15, Department of Transportation Undersecretary TJ Batan announced that jeepney units of operators and drivers who fail to comply with the mandatory consolidation policy by the Dec. 31 deadline will be considered colorum .
With the issuance of the LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2023-051 on Dec. 14, the drivers and operators are more determined than ever to protest against the consolidation policy.
The memorandum revokes the permit to operate of PUVs that fail to file applications for consolidation by the Dec. 31 deadline.
Under the PUV Modernization Program, jeepney drivers should operate under a cooperative for the approval of their provisional authority for franchise. They would have to give up their individual franchises. The minimum number of cooperative members is 10.