It has been 102 days since the government placed Metro Manila under quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As restrictions were slowly eased, certain public transportation options were allowed to operate in order to ferry passengers to and from their place of work.
But despite having already point-to-point buses (P2P), shuttle services, public utility buses (PUBs), modern public utility vehicles (MPUVs), public trains, taxis, and Transportation Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) already resuming operations, some commuters are still left stranded out on the roads.
Come next week, however, more public transportation vehicles will be resuming operations that can cater to commuters. That's because the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) recently announced that UV Express vans and traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJs) will be allowed to ferry passengers in Metro Manila starting next week.
According to LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra, they plan to activate several routes for UV Express vans to operate, with jeepney set to follow soon after. “They could start operating next week for both UV and traditional jeepneys. For UV Express vans, we will be opening several routes and then will be followed by the traditional jeepneys”, said Delgra.
As for jeepneys, Delgra said that they do not have an exact date yet as to when can they resume operations next week. The reason for this is that PUJs are placed low on the 'hierarchy' wherein modes of transport with higher passenger capacity are given more priority. There's also the matter of traditional PUJs having side-facing benches instead of forward-facing seats which can pose as a health hazard for the riding public amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the delays, the LTFRB ensures that traditional jeepneys will still resume operations.
With traditional PUJs still not yet allowed to operate, some drivers and operators are growing restless. Some transport groups like the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO), said that the government is using the pandemic in order to fully phase out traditional PUJs in favor of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).
Should it come to that matter, ACTO's National President Efren de Luna said that they will place their jeepneys in the middle of the roads, and set them ablaze as a form of protest. For Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, he said that UV Express vans and traditional jeepneys can still be tapped in the future if current modes of transportation are still not enough to send commuters to their respective destinations.
What do you think should the LTFRB do? Should they also allow traditional PUJs to resume operations immediately next week aside from UV Express vans in order to address the transportation problem? Chime in your comments below.