Jeepney modernization program kicks off next month

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The iconic jeepney, an evolution of U.S. military jeeps in World War 2, has remained largely unchanged for decades.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 19) — The public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program will take place in a month's time, despite objections from some jeepney operators.

"After 30 days pa ang implementation ng Department Order and saka ng Joint Memorandum Circular, from there the local government manual plan will be cascaded sa (local government unit)," Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Spokesperson Atty. Aileen Lizada said during the program launch on Monday.

READ: LTFRB, transport group clash over effect of jeepney strike

The LTFRB will assess PUV franchises that will expire in the next few months to see if they are compliant with the Department Order known as the Omnibus Guidelines on the Planning and Identification of Public Road Transportation Services and Franchise Issuance.

A copy of the order is yet to be released, but it highlights the local public transport route plan, vehicle specifications, operator requirements, and the three-year transition period, which will end in 2020.

"Huwag matakot ang mga tao, it will not happen overnight. Meron tayong tinatawag na transition period," Lizada added.

[Translation: The people need not worry as the modernization program will not happen overnight. We have what we call a transition period.]

READ: Drivers, operators protest planned old jeepney phaseout

Under the modernization program, PUVs more than 15 years old will be banned from the road, and will be replaced by vehicles with "low-carbon and low-emission technology."

According to the Transportation department, there are a little less than 180,000 public utility jeepneys, which comprise 57 percent of the total PUVs.

Previously, the department also cited jeepneys as the "biggest source" of carbon dioxide emission.

READ: Radical energy shift needed to meet 1.5C global warming target — IEA

The modernization program will also stop giving franchise to single-unit operators.

To ease the burden on jeepney operators, the government has given access to financing program.

"Meron hong mga bangko na handang magbigay ng financing na makamura na makakaluwag sila (There are banks who are willing to help finance the project, which will ease the burden of the operators)," Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

Government-affiliated Land Bank of the Philippines has put up a ₱1-billion credit facility to cover the replacement of some 650 jeepneys, which will cost around ₱1.4 million to ₱1.6 million per unit.

Although fare hikes will be likely, Tugade said it would not be abrupt.

"Yung dagdag pamasahe, hindi naman basta-basta gagawin whimsical o capricious 'yan. Ang pagtaas po ng presyo ay ginagawang weighing yung ibang factors like cost of product, cost of consult, yung sweldo," Tugade added.

[Translation: Fare hikes will not be whimsical or capricious. It will also depend on the cost of product, cost of consult, as well as the wages.]

CNN Philippines' Makoi Popioco and Yvette Morales contributed to this report.