Bacolod to help traditional jeepneys in modernization program

Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez. (Glazyl Y. Masculino photo)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – The local government here will be reaching out to drivers and operators of public vehicles who refuse to follow the modernization program.

Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez said that the city government will comply with the modernization program as there are certain rules to follow, stressing that the city will always protect the riding public.

Based on Memorandum Circular (MC) 2023-17 of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), all traditional jeepneys are allowed to operate by virtue of an extended provisional authority until December 31,2023.

But recently, the LTFRB announced that unconsolidated jeepney operators have until January 31, 2024 to operate pending the process of their permits in allowed routes.

In a press briefing yesterday, Benitez recalled that they have invited traditional jeepney operators here previously to hear their sentiments about the modernization program, and learned that they have no problem with the actual modernization program, as they understand the intent to protect the environment because of climate change.

Benitez said that one of the biggest contributors to climate change is the harmful gasses emitted by old vehicles.

“We are all in agreement with that, it’s all in the details on how to modernize, kung ano ila gina complain and one is consolidation,” the mayor said.

Benitez noted that he has asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) if maybe they can review the consolidation process and come up with a system wherein individual drivers can still operate their old systems.

He said that the DOTr and the LTFRB have agreed that for as long as there’s a letter of intent, traditional jeepneys will still be allowed to operate.

“Indi ka na pag penalized or ipa untaton ang operations, which the city in coordination with jeepney drivers have agreed that we will just send a letter of intent and then we will work out the details afterward,” he added.

Benitez said the city will now be an active partner or will give support to enable them to continue with their operations here.

Based on the record of the LTFRB-6, the city is now at 23 percent or 540 consolidated jeepney operators out of 2,313 traditional jeepney drivers and operators here.

Benitez said that those who will coordinate with the city government will be given protection, and provisional authority to continue to operate while negotiation of their request for an extension from the LTFRB is in process. “Sa mga wala ya, that’s their own lookout,” he added.

Benitez stressed that the city should ensure that there will be no disruption of transportation. “Siguraduhon ta na may sufficient transportation to move around. Our priority is the riding public,” the local chief executive said.

“We hope our traditional jeepney can still be operating at an extended time while the city is working with them to be consolidated in compliance with the new law,” said City Administrator Lucille Gelvolea.

The Bacolod Alliance for Commuters Operators and Drivers (Bacod) has been very vocal in their opposition to the modernization program, claiming that the country is not ready for it.

Gelvolea said that it’s the group’s right to air their sentiments, but she said that they will be meeting them to work with them on how the city could assist them.

“We just have to take it gradually, but hopefully, they will realize that the local government has to comply with the national law,” she said, adding that the city will be helping them.

Gelvolea said that a transport group here has expressed its intent to shift to the modernization program. She said the letter of the Sentrong Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Negros (SSTONE) has been endorsed to LTFRB-6, requesting for an extension of time because they are willing to be consolidated under the modernization program.

Gelvolea said that the group has more than 1,000 members. She said they will have a meeting with the LTFRB-6 to discuss how they will go about it and the new scheme.

Aside from SSTONE, there’s also another group from Barangay Granada that has also sent a letter to Benitez for endorsement to LTFRB-6.