May 24, 2024

Transportation is still challenging even under a modified general community quarantine as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board still imposes some provisions of the Public Transportation Modernization Act in the issuance of special permits to public utility vehicles.

Under the MGCQ, the city government, through the Traffic and Transportation Management Committee (TTMC), has authorized 516 passenger jeepneys to operate from Monday to Saturday. To be able to ply, jeepney operators should meet the requirements of the LTFRB, such as having a valid franchise and their vehicles should be “road worthy.”

For taxicabs, units should begin cashless payment transactions.

But affected drivers are complaining the LTFRB’s insistence on implementing these policies, which they claim is not only impractical in these extraordinary times but also an inconvenience to them and the riding public who, for the past several weeks now, have to walk due to the lack of mass transport vehicles.

The TTMC’s basis in recommending to the LTFRB the number of units per association was also questioned.

During the ECQ, the barangays coordinate with the Baguio City Police Office on the number of units allowed to operate on the twice a week market days before the latter issues a special permit.

During the GCQ, the TTMC determines how many units are allowed to travel and the LTFRB issues a permit provided they meet conditions set in various memorandum circulars.

In their May 25 session, the city council asked the LTFRB to relax its rules, but LTFRB OIC Regional Director Lalaine Sobremonte said they have been considerate.

She said had they chosen to implement all requirements of the LTFRB, none of the 3,000 jeepneys in Baguio will qualify.

Sobremonte added that had jeepney associations in Baguio or elsewhere in the region complied with the Omnibus Franchise Guidelines (OFG), it would have been easier to facilitate their application for special permits.

Based on the requirements of the OFG, jeepney associations are supposed to consolidate by March 2019. Failure to consolidate would result in the cancellation of franchise and the route will be opened for other applicants.

Sobremonte said despite the many extensions granted by the LTFRB, no jeepney association in the region has complied with the OFG.

As remedy, she said they gave permits to associations that have formed into a cooperative or corporation, but they have yet to complete their registration. The last extension for consolidation is in June.

Sobremonte said the regional office can only do so much as they cannot issue directives contrary to what is in memorandum circulars of the LTFRB and orders of the Department of Transportation.

She said orders were also issued to the Land Transportation Office not to apprehend drivers to give them time to comply with requirements needed in the issuance of a special permit.

By June 1, she said the LGU and TTMC will meet to assess if there is a need to add more PUVs to operate as majority of workers are expected to return to work.

In the OFG, after consolidation, a jeepney association is required to register either with the Cooperative Development Authority or Securities and Exchange Commission. After consolidation, the group will be issued a single case number by the LTFRB.

After consolidation, drivers are required, within three months, to change their vehicles to the “Class 4” vehicle or the modern jeepneys.

Meanwhile, Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong has directed Traffic Division Chief Richard Lardizabal to recommend to the LTFRB that the city government will add 150 more units to the 22 units that were allowed to operate on Sundays.

“Ayoko nang makarinig ng reklamo na pinayagan mo ngang lumabas ang mga senior citizens tuwing Linggo pero wala namang masakyan,” Magalong said.

The mayor further directed Lardizabal to allow one or two jeeps per association to operate on Sundays, also to cater to senior citizens who prefer riding the jeepney. – Rimaliza A. Opiña