MANILA - Traditional jeepneys may be gone for good if other modes of public transport prove to be enough to service the riding public, Malacañang said Monday as the government allowed more types of commuter vehicles to ply roads.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board is still evaluating the need for traditional jeepneys while community quarantine measures are still in place, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
Traditional jeepneys are the last option in terms of public transport based on the government's system which prioritizes buses and train lines.
"Sila (traditional jeepney) iyong nasa baba ng hierarchy. Kinakailangan muna nating masiguro na hindi sapat ang mga bus, ang mga modern jeepneys, at ang mga UV Express," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
(They are at the bottom in the hierarchy. We need to see first that the buses, modern jeepneys, and UV Express vans are not enough.)
Should transport authorities see that the public transport system would survive without traditional jeepneys, Roque said there might be no need for the vehicles anymore.
"Tingin ko po ‘no, kung sapat ‘no. Pero ina-assess nga po ng LTFRB kung magiging sapat kung aalisin ang mga traditional jeepneys," Roque said.
(I think so, if the public transport system is enough. But the LTFRB is still assessing whether there are enough public utility vehicles if jeepneys are removed.)
PANDEMIC USED TO PHASE OUT JEEPNEYS?
The government saw it would benefit the public to implement the jeepney modernization program during community quarantine while limited types of public transport vehicles are allowed, Roque said in response to criticism that the government is using the pandemic to phase out traditional jeepneys.
"Siguro ang naging desisyon ay dahil makakabuti ang jeepney modernization program ipatupad ngayon, na tayo po ay bahagyang pinapayagan ang iba’t-ibang klaseng public transportation na bumiyahe muli," Roque said.
(Maybe the decision was it would be beneficial to implement the jeepney modernization program now while we are partially allowing different types of public transport vehicles to resume operations.)
Modern jeepneys were allowed to operate anew on Monday with some 300 units plying 15 different routes in Metro Manila.
The Palace spokesman added that in addressing the transportation needs of the country, the government would prioritize the welfare of passengers.
Should authorities find that traditional jeepneys are still needed, Roque said the government would allow these to operate.
"Titingnan natin kung magiging sapat ang mga bus, ang mga bagong jeepneys at iyong mga UV express. At kung kulang naman ay pupuwedeng gamitin pa rin ang mga jeepney," he said.
(We will see if buses, modern jeepneys, and UV Express will be enough. If these are not enough, the traditional jeepneys may still be used.)
"Huwag po kayong mag-alala, iyong convenience ng mananakay po ang primary consideration ng ating LTFRB," he added.
(Don't worry, passenger convenience is the primary consideration of the LTFRB.)
Since the lockdowns were implemented in March, traditional jeepneys have been prohibited from plying roads as public transport vehicles.
The government has cited difficulties in implementing minimum health standards in justifying the prohibition on traditional jeepneys.
Some jeepney drivers have resorted to begging for money due to lost income while others have shifted to working as delivery services.