Editorial: Laughable LTFRB

Laughable. This is the best word to describe the latest Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) memorandum allowing selected public utility vehicles, specifically modern public utility jeepneys and public utility buses, in areas under Alert Level 1 to have standing passengers.

The agency has explained that its decision is in line with the Department of Transportation’s order to optimize the spaces in buses and modern jeepneys.

Officials at the LTFRB must be told that even before it issued the memorandum, modern jeepneys that ply Metro Cebu have often been packed during peak hours—passengers stand very close to each other. That is the scenario here, and it is highly likely the same situation in big urban centers like Metro Manila.

Buses can be packed too, particularly on Fridays when workers head back to their hometowns to join their families during weekends.

The LTFRB ruled that a modern jeepney Class 2 can have a maximum of five standing passengers at one-person apart.

A public utility bus with a low flooring can have a maximum of 15 standing passengers, one-person apart, while a maximum of 10 passengers for coach-type buses.

It is doubtful if the new LTFRB memo would be followed by operators and drivers. But if it would be strictly implemented, the streets could be crowded with stranded passengers.

LTFRB-Central Visayas Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. said last July that there were nearly 2,000 modern jeepneys in Central Visayas, majority of which were plying the streets of Cebu.

Statistics released by the Department of Transportation on Monday, Sept. 26 during Cebu City’s mobility summit showed that there are 1,144 modern jeepneys plying the streets of Cebu province and the highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. An ordinary person looking at the number can say that the number of units is not enough, considering Cebu’s population.

It is called a modern jeepney because it is touted to give a comfortable ride to commuters. But this is not always the case, particularly during peak hours.

Rush hour is indeed a hell for commuters. To ease this hellish burden, there must be more modern jeepneys in urban centers.

Meanwhile, Montealto and the LTFRB 7 must look into some of Metro Cebu’s transport cooperatives’ practice of not deploying modern jeepneys beyond 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. This could be the reason why there are commuters who have to wait longer for a ride at night. Some of them ride traditional jeepneys or motorcycles for hire.

Some modern jeepney drivers also cut trips, an old practice of traditional jeepney drivers who do not service their designated route if they have only a few passengers. Also, some drivers pick up or unload passengers in undesignated stops.

It seems that “modern jeepney” is only a label. Old bad habits still exist.