Transport department to push through with jeepney modernization plan

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has said that it will continue to replace old, smoke-belching jeepneys with modern vehicles, even after announcing yesterday that it is allowing old versions of the iconic vehicles to stay on the road under certain conditions beyond the government’s 2020 deadline.

Read: ‘But it’s ugly’: Netizens underwhelmed by Transport Department photos of jeepney replacement

In a statement sent to the media yesterday, the DOTr said that operators who have failed to modernize their jeepneys by July 2020 will still be allowed to ply the road as long as they pass emissions standards and other safety checks. The announcement was made after the Senate discussed the DOTr’s 2020 budget, where it was revealed that since the jeepney modernization program started two years ago, only 2,550 of the vehicles have been modernized, comprising just 1.5 percent of the department’s target.

In a statement sent to Coconuts Manila this morning, the DOTr reiterated that its decision to allow old jeepneys to remain on the roads past the deadline will be on a provisional basis and will not hinder the implementation of its modernization program.

It said that jeepneys will undergo a computerized inspection to “ensure that old public utility vehicles will be safe to ply the roads.” If the vehicles pass this test, jeepney operators will still need to annually secure a permit called a provisional authority (PA) to drive their vehicles. The DOTr added that in order to be eligible for a PA, operators will need to submit a document called a petition for consolidation before June 30, 2020.

The DOTr added that it will continue with its jeepney modernization plan “to ensure the safety of public transportation, lessen pollution, bring back the dignity of the Filipino public commuter, and increase the quality of life of both operators and drivers.”

Read: PH gov’t ‘not intimidated’ by today’s transport strike over emissions standards

The government’s modernization plan wants jeepney owners to replace their old vehicles by July 2020 with emissions-standard-compliant vehicles. However, drivers and operators have insisted that they can’t afford the proposed replacement vehicles, each of which costs up to PHP1.9 million (US$38,000). A nationwide transport strike was staged in September, but the government had ignored these protests. 

Earlier this month the DOTr released a cheaper version of the modernized jeepney, but even though it was fitted with air conditioner and WiFi, the public thought that it was too small, inefficient, and flat-out ugly.

Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe said in yesterday’s budget deliberation that the decision to keep old jeepneys past 2020 is sound. “This is for their sake. This is a lot more pragmatic for us, expedient.”

Poe added that if jeepneys are “still pliable, if it’s safe, and doesn’t have any adverse emissions, it [should] be allowed, [this] will also save [operators] a lot [of money].”

This article, Transport department to push through with jeepney modernization plan, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!