For about two years now, the government has been adamant in modernizing public utility vehicles, particularly old and dilapidated jeepneys (15 years or over) under the PUV Modernization Program.
Spearheaded by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), along with support from the Land Transporation Office (LTO) and Land Transporation & Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the program aims to improve the riding public's everyday commute with safer and more modern PUVs, as well as reduce air pollution by using Euro4 compliant engines.
Fast forward to present day and there are still plenty of old jeepneys plying the streets. Come July 1, 2020 however, the LTFRB said that there will be no more old jeepneys roaming the streets by then. This comes after the gov't agency announced the final deadline for all jeepney operators to comply will be on June 30, 2020.
“The deadliest deadline is June 30, 2020. By then, all polluting and dilapidated jeepneys will be gone,” said Ronald Corpuz, a LTFRB board member.
Should any operator fail to comply before the said date, their assigned routes will be opened to new operators that have followed and complied with the PUV Modernization Program. To date, only 4,000 modern jeepneys are currently operating. The government's target is to replace 170,000 units nationwide.
Why the delay? According to the LTFRB, there are still transport groups that continue to oppose and reject the PUV Modernization program of the government. Then there are those who refuse to understand the project, as well as individuals that ask for a more gradual shift towards the new PUVs.
However, Corpuz said that it has already been three years since the government first started the program. For him, it's already been a gradual shift as they have allowed the operators all the time they need in order to make the transition.
This is not the first time that a deadline has been set for the said PUV Modernization program. Back in October 2017, President Duterte exchanged words with the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) over the group's constant rejection of the said program.
In a quote, the President said “I'll give you until the end of the month or until the end of the year, you have to follow because by January 1, if I see a jeepney that is not registered, old, I will tow it in front of you,”. This did not come into fruition however as the DOTr set August 3, 2020 as the end of the transition period for the PUV Modernization Program.
Over the years. there have been a number of transport groups that have shifted in using modern PUVs. Some of the operators that have fully shifted from their old jeepneys include the ones in Boracay, Iloilo, Rizal, and Tarlac. Here's to hoping that more jeepney operators make the change sooner than later.