UV Express resumes ops, less than tenth of drivers back on roads

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 29 2020 07:29 AM | Updated as of Jun 29 2020 09:23 AM

A commuter boards a UV Express Van plying the Antipolo-Ayala route at a terminal in Antipolo City, Rizal on June 29, 2020, amid the general community quarantine. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board initially allowed 980 UV Express vans in 47 routes to resume operations to accommodate the rising number of commuters returning to work onsite. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — UV Express vans on Monday returned to roads after coronavirus protocols grounded their operations for about 3 months. 

Only about 6 percent or 980 drivers out of the total 15,000 in Metro Manila were allowed to resume operations, said Coalition of Operator and Drivers of UV Express (CODEX) president Lino Marable. 

UV Express vans are required to carry only half of their capacity, which means that they can ferry only 10,000 passengers daily, down from the 300,000 commuters they served before the pandemic lockdown in March, he said. 

Reduced passenger capacity also meant that drivers would earn less than their P500 to P1,000 pay before the lockdown, he said. 

"With 50 percent capacity na lang, baka mag-break even kami o minsan pa e matalo... Kung kumita man siguro e baka pang isang kilong bigas na lang," Marable told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo. 

(With only 50-percent of passenger capacity, we might only reach breakeven or even incur losses. If we ever earn, it may just be enough for a kilo of rice.) 

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Drivers had spent about P3,000 each to install plastic barriers inside their vehicles, buy rubbing alcohol, masks and thermal scanners, and provide forms to passengers for contact-tracing, he said. 

Marable urged the government to let more drivers ply the roads and help them through a subsidy or by waiving value-added tax on fuel. 

He also asked commuters to spare drivers a tip if they could. 

"Alam naman nila na 'pag kaunti ang pasahero e baka malugi kami at hindi namin patuloy na matustusan ang operation ng aming UV Express," he said. 

(They know anyway that if there are only a few passengers, we could lose and might no be able to sustain UV Express operations.)