LTFRB-6 braces for jeepney consolidation deadline today

(Rjay Zuriaga Castor photo)

By Rjay Castor

Unconsolidated traditional jeepney drivers are poised to lose their jobs, but the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Region 6 (LTFRB-6) has implemented measures for them to catch up with the April 30 franchise consolidation deadline of the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

As the days inch closer to the deadline, Atty. Salvador “Jun” Altura, LTFRB-6 legal officer, told Daily Guardian that they have requested its central office an extension of office hours on April 30 to accommodate drivers and operators who will register for consolidation at the last minute.

“This is consistent with the call of the board to encourage consolidation. There are others that their decision to consolidate is delayed. We have cooperatives who only have additional applications, but there are those new cooperatives of corporations that are filing for the first time,” he said in an interview on Monday, April 29.

Altura also mentioned the possibility of a shortage of manpower on the deadline date, thus emphasizing the need for extended office hours.

Although the requirements set by the LTFRB are minimal to expedite the process, Altura noted that operators and drivers may still encounter difficulties in their application process, particularly in securing necessary documents from other offices, which could lead to delays.

The LTRFV-6 is anticipating a “bulk of application” from drivers and operators rushing to meet the consolidation deadline.

The LTFRB-6 has not provided the most recent data for public utility jeepneys (PUJ) in Western Visayas that failed to meet the consolidation deadline by entering a cooperative or corporation but instead provided data from the initial December 31, 2023 deadline.

It could be recalled that after the December 2023 deadline, the LTFRB extended it to January 31, 2024, which was then extended as a “final deadline” by the president on April 30, 2024.

In the case of Iloilo City and Bacolod City, Altura explained that under the normal regulations, the two cities will no longer have consolidation since their Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) has been approved and the routes were already awarded.

However, an extension for consolidation was granted following requests from the cooperatives and corporations, according to Altura.

The December data showed that the province of Iloilo recorded the highest number of consolidated jeepneys at 97 percent, followed by Guimaras at 94 percent, Antique at 93 percent, Aklan at 89 percent, and Capiz at 82 percent.

Altura mentioned that Bacolod City has the highest count of unconsolidated PUJs with 1,747. He also noted a “problematic” status for Negros Occidental, which only achieved 59 percent consolidation.

The LTRFB official is positive that the consolidation rate for the two areas will reach 60 percent by the final deadline.

Based on the LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2023-052, which sets the guidelines on transport situation after the December 31 deadline, transport operators in routes with more than 60 percent consolidation will no longer be allowed to join existing consolidated groups or organize themselves into a corporation or a cooperative.

The franchise of unconsolidated transport operators in routes with more than 60 percent consolidated rate is already deemed revoked.

But for unconsolidated transport operators in routes with less than 60 percent consolidation rate, they will still be allowed to ply their routes until January 31, 2024.

Within the January 2024 period, Altura said they have already issued several Show Cause Orders to unconsolidated transport operators as part of the due process before the cancellation of the franchise.

“The regional offices are merely implementing arms; we implement not because we are against them, but because we are bound to enforce these rules and regulations,” he clarified.

“We are implementing this to our best effort and in all good faith and fairness to all entities,” he added.

The LTFRB-6 assured commuters, especially in Iloilo City, that after April 30, there will be enough public transport available, citing coordination with the city and provincial government.

Altura said a minimum of 25 percent and a maximum of 40 percent PUJs from the first towns in the province will be allowed to serve their original routes.