A PARTY LIST lawmaker has batted for the return on the road of more public utility vehicles (PUV), saying this is a “most urgent concern” that drivers and commuters welcome.
DUMPER-PTDA party-list Rep. Claudine Diana D. Bautista, vice chairperson of the House committee on transportation, also called for continuing dialogues between pandemic-response decision makers and stakeholders in the transport industry to determine ways of addressing the concerns of commuters and PUV drivers.
“I strongly urge an immediate increase in number of permitted PUVs specifically, jeepneys, buses, taxis, TNVS (Transport Network Vehicle Service), UV Express, tricycles, and if possible motor cycle taxis, as well as increased operational capacity for our LRT (Light Rail Transit), MRT (Metro Rail Transit) and PNR (Philippine National Railway), all of which shall observe strict proper health protocols,” said the lady solon who represents the transport industry.
Bautista clarified that she does not object to the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) decision as proposed by the Department of Transportation to reduce the one-meter physical distancing protocol for PUV passengers.
However, she pointed out that objections aired by various sectors, including the country’s political leaders, medical experts and commuter groups, should also be heard.
The House assistant majority leader stressed that the need for the resumption of more PUV operations to the streets is an urgent concern among both the economically displaced drivers and commuters.
According to her, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has revealed that more than 232,962 PUV drivers nationwide have been directly hit by the pandemic.
“While some have been allowed to operate, a great majority of our PUV drivers have been forced to stop working and some have resorted to begging on the streets,” lamented Bautista.
She pointed out, however, that the DSWD, as well as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the Department of Transportation, had acted promptly address the plight of the displaced transport sector members.
So far, 186,940 drivers of PUVs, TNVS, PUJs, motorcycle taxis and tricycles in the National Capital Region have received the financial assistance granted by government.
On the other hand, the LTFRB (Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board) allowed an additional 1,159 jeepneys with 28 new Metro routes.
“We recognize the effort of the DOTr (Department of Transportation), LTFRB and IATF in considering the gradual increase of public transportation on the road. However, public transport supply remains insufficient. The supply simply cannot match the demand of commuters,” Bautista stated.
The party-list solon said: “It is our responsibility now to look for ways to balance our present situation. This proposed measure of allowing more PUVs that observe health protocols to operate is one way of addressing this pressing concern.”