The country’s undisputed “King of the Road” is back more than five months after it was sidelined because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. announced that traditional public utility jeepneys (TPUJs) can once again ply the streets after the entire region shifted to the more relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
However, the cities of Cebu and Mandaue continue to ban their operation.
Montealto said the two local government units (LGUs) do not want to compromise the health and safety of their residents and will instead deploy additional buses and modern PUJs.
It’ll be harder to enforce prescribed minimum health and safety protocols, such as social distancing, in small TPUJ units than in buses and MPUJs.
“We are trying to avoid a resurgence of cases, especially since Cebu was once a hotspot,” Montealto said in Cebuano.
Cebu City was once dubbed the epicenter of Covid-19 in the country. Although the number of cases in the city has dropped dramatically since then, there is no guarantee this won’t go up again.
The LTFRB 7 official pointed out that the threat remains until a cure or a vaccine is found for Covid-19.
Under the Omnibus Guidelines adopted by the LTFRB 7 for public transportation amid the current health crisis, TPUJs can only re-operate once all available buses and MPUJs in the area have already been deployed.
Meanwhile, Montealto said it may not be long before TPUJs can resume operations in Cebu City and Mandaue City, especially when the borders of Cebu Province and the island of Negros reopen.
He said majority of the buses plying the two LGUs cover inter-island routes.
However, the days of the TPUJs are numbered.
Among the major components of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program that the Department of Transportation launched in 2017 is fleet modernization.
The program calls for the phasing out of all public utility vehicles, including jeepneys, that are at least 15 years old and replace them with “safer, more comfortable and more environmentally-friendly alternative over the next three years.”
Since most TPUJs fall under this category, the “King’s” reign will soon be ended.