Traditional jeepney drivers complain over competition with modern jeepney drivers

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines – Drivers of traditional jeepney units are complaining against modern jeepney drivers who are now overtaking their routes.

According to the group ‘Samahang Manibela,’ seven of the newly opened routes that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) recently announced – Nichols to Vito Cruz; Vito Cruz to PITX via Taft Avenue; and PITX to Nichols – are among the routes that their members used to take.

“Iyan po ang mahirap sa amin na iyong route rationalization nila na hindi po kami kinokonsulta na hindi man lang kami tinanong kung may masasagasaan po ba dyan sa ruta na iyan [That’s the problem. They did not consult us regarding the route rationalization. They did not ask if there’s already a group using that route],” said Mar Valbuena, the group’s president. 

A group of UV Express drivers also share the same sentiment accusing the LTFRB of giving much favor to drivers of modern jeepneys as compared to them whose franchises have been existing for years. 

Coalition of Operators and Drivers of UV Express (CODEX) President Rosalino Marabel questioned the delay in the development of the jeepney routes to give favor to the modern jeepney drivers. 

“Iyong aming mga ruta na na-develop over the past 15 years or more ibinibigay sa modern jeep, ibinibigay sa mga bus. Where is justice there? [The routes that we have developed over the past 15 years or more they easily allowed modern jeepneys and buses. Where is justice there]?” Rosalino Marable, President of CODEX.

The LTFRB earlier explained that they have plotted the routes depending on the demand of passengers and the accessibility per area.

Transport officials maintained that they cannot rush the resumption of public transport operations as they are taking into consideration the risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection. 

“Resumption of public transport is made in a partial and calibrated manner because we need to balance the need for mobility with the need to ensure public health in the midst of the pandemic,” said LTFRB Chair Atty. Martin Delgra III. 

“Hindi po natin kakayanin na biglaan po lalabas at pwedeng i-deploy and lahat ng public transport on the first day because the transport sector is one vulnerable sector pagdating sa pandemyang ito [We cannot allow the deployment of public transport all at the same time on the first day because the transport sector is one vulnerable sector when it comes to this pandemic],” he added.

The Palace, meanwhile, said it is waiting for the result of the LTFRB’s assessment on the current situation to be able to decide as to when to resume the operation of the traditional jeepney. 

“Titingnan natin kung sapat ang mga bus, ang mga bagong jeepneys at tsaka mga UV express. At kung kulang naman, gagamitin natin ang mga lumang jeepneys [We will determine if the number of buses, jeepneys and UV express units is enough. And if it is still lacking, then we will use the traditional jeepneys],” noted Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

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