Standing passengers allowed in PUVs in Alert Level 1 areas

THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has allowed public utility vehicles (PUVs) in areas under the least restrictive Alert Level 1 classification to have standing passengers.

In a statement on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, the LTFRB said that under Memorandum Circular 2022-070, public utility bus (PUB) and modern public utility jeepney (MPUJ) Class 2 may have standing passengers.

According to LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2021-002, PUJs are classified into classes depending on their overall height, width and length. Class 1 PUJs have a height (floor-to-ceiling) of 150 centimeters, maximum width of 175 cm, and length of 450 cm. Under Classes 2 and 3 are those with 175 cm height, 235 cm width and 700 cm length.

For low-entry or low floor PUBs, a maximum of 15 standing passengers, one-person apart, will be allowed while a maximum of 10 for coach-type PUBs.

A maximum of five standing passengers at one-person apart will be allowed in MPUJ Class 2.

The LTFRB said the minimum public health safety protocols would continue to be enforced to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Drivers and operators who violate the ruling will be penalized.

Majority of the areas in the country, including the National Capital Region and other highly urbanized cities, are under Alert Level 1.

No deputies in CV

The LTFRB in Central Visayas (LTFRB 7), however, is still waiting for a deputization order from the Land Transportation Office (LTO 7) before it can issue the temporary operator’s permit (TOP) to erring PUV drivers.

LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. said most of the drivers ignored the traffic tickets since they are not the ones who will pay the penalty but the operators.

For this month of September, the LTFRB cited around 10 public utility jeepney and modern PUJ drivers for various traffic violations, including overloading. But Montealto said the drivers were not taking the matter seriously after passing the burden on to their operators.

Following the LTFRB’s new memorandum circular allowing PUVs in areas under Alert Level 1 to have standing passengers, Montealto asked the public to get photos of PUVs caught overloading or not following the social distancing protocol and submit the captured images to their office or through their Facebook page for proper action.

The LTFRB official admitted they could not catch all erring drivers in the streets without the public’s help due to the wide scope of responsibility and the lack of manpower.

As a result, the agency will monitor overloading PUVs through closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) installed in the streets.

Violators will be slapped a penalty of P5,000 for the offense.

In fact, long before the LTFRB’s Memorandum Circular 2022-070 was issued, passengers in Metro Cebu have been observed standing in PUVs since the first quarter of this year, especially during rush hour, suffering no consequences for the violation.

Transport route plan

The LTFRB 7 is now asking the local government units (LGUs) to craft their transport route plans.

Montealto said Tuesday that only three LGUs in Central Visayas had finished creating their Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP).

The crafting of an LPTRP is a requirement for a government-owned bank to release loans for the purchase of modern public utility jeepneys, he said.

“Our target is dependent on two things. The first is the formulation of the LPTRP, which is the prerequisite for granting of a loan from government banks. So if there is still no LPTRP, for now they cannot grant (loans). That’s what’s causing the delay,” said Montealto.

In a previous interview, Montealto had explained that the goal of the LPTRP is to create an equilibrium between the demand for public transport and the number of public utility vehicles plying the roads.

The LTFRB recently issued a notice of compliance to the cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue and the town of Cordova for completing their LPTRP.

Montealto said Cebu City is still at 70 percent in crafting its LPTRP.

The deadline for the submission of the LPTRP was supposed to be in 2019, but because of the election and pandemic, it has been delayed, he said.

Montealto said they had conducted capacity building to all municipal and planning officers about the crafting of the transport plan in 2017.

But when the election came in 2019, there were changes in the LGUs’ administration including the planning officers.

Modernization

During Cebu City’s first Mobility Summit on Monday, Sept. 26, Montealto reported that there are already 1,160 MPUJs plying the roads of Central Visayas.

Montealto reminded all franchise holders of traditional PUJs that they have until March 2023 to consolidate or join transport cooperatives to continue their operations.

Being a member of a cooperative or corporation is also a requirement to avail of a loan for the acquisition of MPUJs, he added.

Montealto said there are already 99 consolidated entities in the region covering all transport routes.

The regional director explained that some franchise owners were hesitant to be part of cooperatives or corporations because of the sentimental value of their jeepney units. (TPT / SunStar Philippines)