LAST DAYS: 2.7K traditional PUJs lose authority to ply Western Visayas routes

Progressive groups hold a protest and a candle-lighting ceremony in front of the West Visayas State University on November 22, 2023, to denounce the phaseout of the traditional jeepneys under the national government’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) modernization program. (Photo courtesy of Franz Chrysler Marie Delgado/Forum-Dimensions)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor 

The government’s public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP) resulted in more than 2.7 thousand unconsolidated Public Utility Jeepneys (PUJs) in Western Visayas losing their franchise and authority to ply streets in the region, effective January 31, 2024.

Data from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Region 6 (LTFRB-6) showed that a total of 2,756 PUJs were unable to meet the deadline to consolidate by entering a cooperative or corporation by December 31, 2023.

Bacolod City has the highest count of unconsolidated PUJs at 1,747, followed by Iloilo City with 547, Negros Occidental province with 189, Capiz with 87, Iloilo province with 67, Aklan with 53, Antique with 29, and Guimaras with 10.

On December 22 last year, the LTFRB issued a memorandum allowing unconsolidated PUVs to still operate on selected routes until January 31.

Atty. Salvador “Jun” Altura, LTFRB-6 legal officer, told Daily Guardian that the number of unconsolidated traditional jeepneys in the city of Bacolod and Iloilo is “not a cause of concern.”

He said that with the Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) of the two highly urbanized cities, there are enough modernized jeepneys to accommodate the commuters.

The Bacolod City’s LPTRP identified 24 routes, with a total allocation of 1,099 modern jeepney units under the PUVMP.

With a total of 25 routes, Iloilo City’s LPTRP has over 1,700 modernized bus requirements.

Latest data from the Iloilo City Public Safety and Transportation Management showed that it has 512 modernized jeepneys as of November last year.

Iloilo City’s LPTRP is eyed to be implemented in the 1st quarter of 2024, with the civil works for traffic signages currently ongoing.

On December 31, the city government of Iloilo held a “ceremonial stickering” of consolidated PUJs in preparation for the full-scale implementation of its LPTRP.

“Nadecide ang technical working group nga magbutang sang stickers to see to it nga ang magdalang sang dalan amo lang ang consolidated nga mga traditional jeepneys […] No sticker, no travel. Kung naga travel ikaw nga wala sang sticker, it implies nga colorum, said Uldarico Garbanzos, Iloilo City Traffic Management Unit head.

[The technical working group has decided to implement the use of stickers to ensure that only consolidated traditional jeepneys ply the roads. No sticker, no travel. If you travel without a sticker, it is implied that the vehicle is operating illegally.]

The stickers were designed by the LTFRB and were individually provided by the transport cooperatives to the operators and drivers.

Western Visayas now have a total of 5,778 consolidated traditional jeepneys.

Iloilo province leads in the number of consolidated traditional PUJs with 1,911, followed by Iloilo City with 1,692.

According to LTFRB-6 data, the region has a total of 8,534 traditional PUJs, with Bacolod and Iloilo cities sharing the largest portion, accounting for 2,313 and 2,266 PUJs, respectively.