DBP to set up ₱1.5B loan program for new PUVs

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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, September 10) — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the government will provide ₱1.5 billion to help in the purchase of new public utility vehicles (PUV).

The DOTr said in a Sunday statement that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade will sign on Sept. 11 a memorandum of understanding with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) for a finance facility for the PUV Modernization Program.

The DOTr also said the DBP has developed the Program Assistance to Support Alternative Driving Approaches or PASADA, "which will offer responsive and reasonable financing for transport corporations and cooperatives to allow them to acquire new and passenger-safe PUVs."

The loans may also be used to put up facilities like off-street garages or terminals and purchase equipment needed for the proper operations and maintenance of PUVs.  

The PUV Modernization Program, which debuted on June 19, aims to replace PUVs that are over 15 years old with vehicles that use "low-carbon and low-emission technology."

Read: Jeepney modernization program kicks off next month

The program will also assess expiring PUV franchises to see if these are compliant with DOTr Department Order 2017-011, also known as the Omnibus Guidelines on the Planning and Identification of Public Road Transportation Services and Franchise Issuance.

The order stipulates the local public transport route plan, vehicle specifications, operator requirements and the program's three-year transition period, which will end in 2020.

Among the proposed PUV designs is the "Philippine Utility Vehicle" proposed by the Department of Trade and Industry, which was tasked by the DOTr to come up with specifications for a modernized jeepney.

Read: DTI unveils plans for modern jeepney

The DOTr also said the DBP will help design and implement an automatic fare collection system for the public road transport sector.

However, public-transport groups have been calling on the government to stop the phase-out of PUVs, particularly jeepneys.

Jeepney group Piston said in May 2017 that 600,000 drivers and 200,000 operators nationwide will be affected by the program.

Read: Jeepney groups hold new protest vs. gov't plan to upgrade jeepneys

Commuters in small towns that rely on jeepneys will also suffer, the group said.

It is advocating for jeepney rehabilitation instead of replacement.

In addition, Piston president George San Mateo said in July 2017 that the program will affect commuters who will face a surge in fares once the modernization program gets fully implemented.