Piston-Cebu urges LTFRB to suspend jeepney franchise consolidation

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 21) – Local transport groups have called for the suspension of the mandatory consolidation of jeepney franchises, saying operators and drivers still cannot comply with the directive.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has set a March 2023 deadline for jeepney franchise holders to consolidate or join existing cooperatives in order to continue their operations.

Greg Perez, chair of the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahang Tsuper at Operator Nationwide - Cebu (PISTON-Cebu), led the group in filing their petition before the LTFRB regional headquarters in Cebu City on Monday, Feb. 20.

According to PSITON-Cebu, there was no direct consultation with drivers and operators about the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program. The group also said operators still cannot afford the modern jeepneys, which cost at least ₱2.4 million per unit.

"They cannot meet the qualifications set by the banks to borrow money," Perez said.

He added that operators and drivers have yet to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was worsened by the rising prices of fuel and other commodities.

The Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program is one of the priority programs of the Duterte administration. It aims to phase out old jeepneys and replace these with vehicles that are environment-friendly and have greater capacity.

A number of groups, however, are against the program due to lack of financial support to drivers and operators.

Earlier this February, the LTFRB said it is considering a fourth extension of the traditional jeepney franchise. LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III said that only 60% of jeepneys in the country have been modernized.

READ: LTFRB to extend franchise of traditional jeepneys