The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is set to start implementing the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) next year to provide a safe, efficient, and environmentally sustainable mode of public transportation to commuters, according to a DOTr official.



Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Thomas ‘Tim’ Orbos assured that the government is ready to implement the program at the start of 2018, with upgraded jeepneys for public transportation.



Orbos said the department expects to implement the program within three years with the start of the Land Transportation Office’s (LTO) Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) that would determine the roadworthiness of public utility jeepneys (PUJs) in 2018. 



For his part, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade was disappointed with the admission of some transport leaders during the Senate hearing on the PUVMP Monday that they are bribing LTO inspectors for them to comply with the MVIS.



He said drivers and operators must not resort to bribery, as the welfare of the commuters is being put at risk.



“Madumi na ang kapaligiran dahil sa tumataas na carbon footprint emission, eh bakit ayaw magpalit at mag modernize? Naiintindihan ko kung gusto nating mag-hanapbuhay, ngunit sana naman, ang ating hanapbuhay, huwag kumitil o bumawi ng buhay. Isipin ang nakararami, at huwag lang ang sarili (Our environment is being polluted because of the increasing carbon emissions. Why should public transport not be modernized? We understand the concerns on the livelihood of jeepney drivers, but this must not endanger commuters. We must think of the collective interests and not ourselves),” Tugade said.



Aside from the officials of the DOTr, among those who attended the hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Public Services under its chairperson Sen. Grace Poe, were Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra III and jeepney transport groups FEJODAP, ACTO, LTOP, PISTON, and No to Jeepney Phase-out Coalition. 



Poe has urged the DOTr to consider piloting the program in certain areas and asked the department to reconsider the “high unit cost and burdensome financing terms” to be extended to jeepney driver-operators.



The senator also proposed that jeepneys that are at least 15 years old must be given the chance to operate if they are complying with roadworthy requirements.



According to the senator, it would be difficult if there would be a complete phaseout of around 270,000 jeepneys because it would affect the millions of commuters who rely on jeepneys as a primary mode of transportation. (PNA)

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