PUV Modernization Program: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Last week, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) officially launched the public transportation overhaul, a program that will span for three years. Under the PUV modernization program, public transportation vehicles will be upgraded to safe, efficient, and environment-friendly transport.

Aside from the transport themselves, passengers should also expect more efficient and courteous drivers as well as newer routes that will complement the transportation master plan.

PUV Modernization Program: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Who will benefit from the PUV modernization program?

To be honest, every stakeholder in this government initiative will real benefits from the PUV modernization program. To break it down:

  • Commuters will have access to safer, more modern public utility vehicles, as opposed to the jeeps and buses of today that are old, dirty, and cramped. Aside from upgraded vehicles, they also come with technological features such as GPS, CCTV cameras, automatic fare collection systems, and free wireless connection.
  • While PUV drivers and operators may be opposing the changes violently, their sector will also see some great benefits under the PUV modernization. For starters, the “boundary system” operators usually employ—which is where drivers and their staff have to reach a certain amount every day—will be scrapped in favor of a fixed salary system.
  • As regular employees, they are also entitled to benefits like SSS, Pag-IBIG, and PhilHealth. To standardize the safety of the passengers, all drivers have to undergo training programs for safer and more efficient driving.
  • The environment will also score a big win with this, especially that our urban areas are places blanketed by smog. In a report by the CNN Philippines, the World Health Organization announced that air pollution levels in Metro Manila are beyond tolerable—and one of the two main culprits is outdated cars. The new PUVs will come with Euro 4-compliant engines. Solar and electric-powered vehicles with low to zero emission are also being considered.

What will be the role of different government agencies in this scheme?

Each department will have a role to play in the three-year transition period. The following duties by the different government bodies to ensure the success of the program:

  • The DOTr is the overall agency in charge of the transition, making sure that everything goes according to plan. Last Monday, Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade finally signed the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG) along with other government agencies concerned, barring all delays.
  • Local government units (LGU) will be helming the planning of public transportation based on existing road networks and passenger demands. Once completed, the new plans will be included in the OFG, which will serve as the overall handbook for the overhauled public transportation scheme. The LGUs are, of course, backed by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
  • Once LGUs have finally submitted their route proposals, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will start issuing new franchises based on the new routing plans. In addition, InterAksyon reports that the LTFRB will also be in charge of the proposed driving academy for PUV drivers, ensuring the safety of the commuters as well as picking up proper etiquette along the way.
  • In NCR, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will act as the enforcer of the modernization scheme. While the MMDA constables are already doing this, they will start to police based on the guidelines of the PUV modernization program.
  • To aid PUV owners in having a smoother transition in terms of financing new vehicles, the government tapped the Department of Finance (DOF) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to aid them. According to Rappler, the said agencies will help drivers and operators have access to credit with low interests and more flexible payment.

What will be units permitted under the PUV modernization program?

The InterAksyon report furthered that while there will be standards in what will be given new licenses and what features should be available on new public vehicles, “the DOTr has yet to release specific requirements for buses, vans, and jeepneys.”

However, the scheme is clear that units will only be given franchise if they either have Euro 4-compliant engines or more environmentally friendly options like electric motors or solar-powered engines.

Will the old public vehicles like jeeps and buses be scrapped?

Top Gear Philippines reported that there will be no decommissioning that will happen under the PUV modernization program.

However, those who decide to keep their old vehicles will have to upgrade their cars to meet the standards under the program.

“Among the changes the modernization program will address is to ensure that the vehicles comply with international and local emission standards. They’ll also be improving the driver’s view of the road and will rid vehicles of any unsafe protrusions,” Top Gear reported.

How can PUV drivers buy new vehicles?

LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III dispelled the rumor that operators will be needing a capital of P7 billion to get a franchise. While he said that nothing is fixed about the capital, there will be guidelines for operators and drivers to create a cooperative of drivers based on the same route.

In addition, a Manila Bulletin article cited Delgra saying the government will open a financing program for operators to have access to loans with good terms and low-interest rates. This is in line with what the DOF and DMB pledged to make PUV modernization happen.