LTFRB says net service contracting for PUVs will begin in October

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 16) - A new system of providing for more stable incomes for drivers of public utility vehicles will be launched next month by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

Instead of scrambling for a big number of passengers on which drivers of buses and jeepneys derive their pay, the new system will calculate payments based on rates that the LTFRB will set for the distance and the routes that the drivers will cover over a particular period.

The LTFRB calls it the "net service contracting scheme" under which the government will pay drivers a salary that will cover the cost of service rendered per kilometer by buses and jeepneys on specific routes.

For buses and modern jeepneys, operators will keep the fare earned in a day, while the government subsidizes their cost of service which includes the driver’s salary, LTFRB chairperson Martin Delgra said on Wednesday.

In the case of traditional jeepneys, their drivers will take home the fare earned at the end of the day, while the government covers the cost of service'

Delgra said that instead of competing for passengers, drivers will have to meet a schedule to cover the time they are picking up and dropping commuters. They will be expected to arrive and leave an area at a specific time under the new system, he said.

Citing a 2014 study by the aid-giving Japan International Cooperation Agency, Delgra said that many buses plying in Metro Manila are only around 35-percent efficient due to the old practice of running on longer routes and stopping for longer periods to wait for passengers.

“Ang practice kasi..ang hinahabol mo tao, hindi oras. Kung walang tao, maghihintay ka ng pasahero. Yung bus sa likod nakapila, tas may pila sa likod nya nakapila, kasi nag-iintay ang nasa unahan, nag-uunahan sa pasahero,” Delgra told CNN Philippines in a phone interview.

[Translation: The practice is you go after people, not the time. If there are no people, you will wait for passengers. The number of buses in line subsequently multiplies, because the first one is waiting for passengers. They are all wanting to get passengers.]

He added, “What we’re saying is ‘pag nakita mo ‘yan sa EDSA, pagbaba ng pasahero, it’s only when you unload and load the passenger and then you move. Mapuno ka man o hindi, alis ka na.”

[Translation: What we are saying is once you unload a passenger in EDSA, that’s also the only time you unload and load passengers and then you move. Whether you maximized the seating capacity or not, you should move out of the way already.]

Delgra said the government selected the net service contracting scheme to be able to cover more PUV drivers, based on the allotted funds under the Bayanihan 2 law.

“If it’s going to be net and you are only subsidizing a part of that service, the cost of kilometer will be lower, and since the amount for this program under Bayanihan 2 is just a total of P5.58 billion we would be able to cover more PUV that will be under this program,” he said.

“Also, may limitasyon sa batas na sinabi doon that P3-billion is supposed to go to PUJ [public utility jeepney] drivers (Also there is a limitation in our law, wherein it states that P3-billion is supposed to go to PUJ drivers). Basically, we are trying to subsidize driver’s income in relation to the overall cost of running the service,” added Delgra.

The LTFRB has yet to finalize the guidelines to determine the system, the routes and the number of vehicles that will be covered. But since a big portion of the funds are for PUJ, Delgra said majority of those who may be included are jeepney drivers.

The LTFRB is also finalizing the information technology system for monitoring the drivers’ performance.

“Definitely there will be GPS kasi that’s how we will be able to monitor all the units that will be running. For example, 14 hours operating time, they need to commit to that. For example, they leave at 5 a.m., 14 hours will be 7 p.m., if they fall short aalis na sila daan 5 p.m. they will not be able to get the full amount,” Delgra said.