Jeepney groups: Transport strike was a success

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 30) — Monday's nationwide transport strike caused commuters to arrive late for work because of the scarcity of jeepneys on the roads in the morning.

To fill in for the lack of public transportation, local governments used their vehicles to give free rides, with even the police pitching in by using patrol cars to serve stranded passengers.

Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO) president Efren de Luna said nine out of 10 jeepneys in major cities took part in the strike and warned they would do more if government insists on replacing old jeepneys with modern ones. However, he apologized to commuters for the inconvenience that that strike caused.

"Kami ay humihingi ng paumanhin sa ating mga pasahero kung sila man ay nahirapan sa ngayon pero kasama po kayo sa ipinaglalaban namin sa aming kilos-protesta na ginawa po namin ngayon," he said.

[Translation: We are apologizing to passengers if they were inconvenienced today, but were are fighting for you as well.]

He said buying new vehicles is too expensive, and could force jeepney drivers to raise fares.

Earlier, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said they would “never” let transport groups succeed in inconveniencing commuters, its spokeswoman said.

MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago said the strike failed to make an impact.

“They were not successful. The government will never allow them to be successful,” she told CNN Philippines’ Newsroom Ngayon.

Pialogo said they were able to accommodate stranded passengers amid the scarcity of jeepneys across Metro Manila. Transport officials deployed bus and “Libreng sakay” (free ride) services in anticipation of the strike.

“Wala nang [There are no more] reported stranded passengers,” she reported as of 10 a.m.

Transport groups such as ACTO and the Stop and Go coalition are protesting against the jeepney and UV express modernization program because of its heavy cost to jeepney drivers and operators. The government wants to phase out all old jeepneys and UV Express service vehicles by 2020 and replace them with units that have environment-friendly engines.

A modern jeepney costs more than P2 million, Stop and Go Coalition President Jun Magno said. Government said the modern vehicles were worth P1.2 million to P1.8 million.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chairman Martin Delgra earlier warned those who will participate in the transport strikes of a possible cancellation of their franchises.

Despite the protests, he maintained that there are still thousands who support the government’s initiative.