PUVs back on road in GCQ

MANILA Rep. Manny Lopez yesterday said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory (LTFRB) has committed to gradually increase the routes available for public utility vehicles (PUVs), especially for traditional public utility jeepneys, once the National Capital Region (NCR) reverts to General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

Lopez, the chairman of the House committee on Metro Manila development, said LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra III gave this assurance during the panel’s hybrid meeting last Wednesday.

“Let us make sure that as we approach and enter GCQ, and on day one itself, our mass public transportation hits the ground running. And we expect each day after that to be better and more responsive as we approach the road to normalcy,” Lopez told the panel.

“Hindi po ako makapayag na kailangan mamasahe ang ating mamamayan ng tatlo o apat na oras one way papuntang trabaho at ganoon din katagal pauwi sa kanilang mga pamilya. Pagtulungan po nating lahat itong suliranin na ito,” he stressed.

The House committee on Metro Manila development earlier proposed to increase all modes of public transportation by at least 30% and at least 10% thereafter every week.

Cabinet Secretary and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) co-Chair Karlo Nograles has endorsed the proposal to the IATF and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

As a response, Delgra said they would heed the call of Lopez’s committee and submit their comprehensive PUV route rationalization plan and timeline to the panel by August 14.

“We have received instructions from IATF to increase the number of units and… the basic strategies that we have, as mentioned earlier, we’re going to open up one batch of routes every week and that is the one that we’re going to submit on Friday,” Delgra said during the meeting.

“We actually started this three weeks ago, whereby every week naglalabas tayo ng bagong ruta covering hundreds if not thousands of units. We will continue to do that so we will be able to meet the target,” he added.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade also backed the proposal.

“Nandirito ho kami ngayon para makipag-dayalogo sainyo. ‘Yung hangarin ninyong mabigyan ng comfortable life ang bawat Pilipino, Mr. Chairman, ay hangarin po namin. Kami’y nakikisa sa inyong mandato, kami’y nakikiisa sa inyong hangarin,” Tugade said during the meeting.

Lopez welcomed Delgra's and Tugade’s positive response to their proposition, stressing that an efficient mass public transportation system would be vital for a “prosperous new normal where our countrymen can hope for a better life for their families.”

“We see no more reason why we can’t enforce this, Asec. Martin, dahil Congress is with you, IATF is with you, DOTr is with you. So now, the ball is in the hands of LTFRB,” Lopez said.

Lopez also noted that previous meetings of their committee have bared that the allowed volume of public transportation was not enough to service the needs of the riding public, and has continuously burdened the country’s frontliners, particularly health workers.

“In a radio interview yesterday (Tuesday), Dr. Antonio Dans of the Healthcare Professions Alliance stated this very telling insight as well as highlighting the added burden this lack of public transportation causes to ... a majority of our healthcare  workers,” Lopez pointed out.

“At this point, the greater Metro Manila has again reverted to MECQ (Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine), during which public transportation is prohibited. Despite this, we should not be deterred in pursuing our goal to provide better service to our riding public.

This is an opportune time to craft programs that give real and adequate solutions to our transportation problems, especially in Greater Metro Manila,” the lawmaker further said.

The House committee on Metro Manila development also discussed in the same meeting the recent accidents happening at the dedicated median lanes in EDSA, as well as the issue of motorcycle shields for couples in the same household.