Despite Metro Manila now being placed under General Community Quarantine, public utility jeepneys (PUJs) cannot operate during this time. As mentioned before, it's because physical distancing cannot be observed inside PUJs.
However, PUJ operators and drivers have been wanting to go back to business after months of not having any income. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) might have an alternative line of work for them.
Recently, the DOTr announced that they are looking to tap PUJs for delivery services. According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, since PUJs are still not allowed to ferry passengers, they can instead be tapped for deliveries of basic and essential goods.
“Kanina po, kasama ko rin si Transport Secretary Tugade, meron din silang plano na gawing delivery service ang ating mga jeepneys kasi nga po hindi pupuwedeng sakyan because hindi pupuwede ang social distancing,” said Roque.
[Earlier, I was with Secretary Tugade, they also have a plan to use PUJs as delivery services since they cannot carry passengers while observing social distancing]
Besides tapping PUJs as delivery services, the DOTr has also thought of having PUJ drivers as contact tracers. At the moment, the country needs to hire about 120,000 contact tracers in order to augment the existing 30,000 contract tracers.
In the future, the DOTr could also facilitate PUJ modernization programs for drivers that still use traditional jeepneys with side-facing seats. Department of Trade & Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said that there are government financing programs available that can encourage PUJ drivers to make the switch to modern PUVs. Roque also assured that PUJ drivers are guaranteed cash aid under the government's social amelioration program (SAP).
With trains, buses, taxis, transport network vehicle services (TNVS), shuttles, and point-to-point (P2P) buses the only means of public transport, for now, perhaps PUJs can find work in the logistics sector since they're not yet allowed to carry passengers.