A three-day nationwide transport strike kicked off on Monday, November 20, with some routes in Metro Manila showing signs of reduced volume of public utility vehicles.
Some passengers at Commonwealth Avenue, one of the busiest roads in Metro Manila, observed a lack of available jeepney units, particularly those plying towards Cubao.
Some students said they could usually hail a jeepney in 5-10 minutes compared to 30-40 minutes during morning rush hour.
“Mas mahirap po ngayon… Wala po ako mahanap na pwede masakyan sa Cubao Ali Mall, ngayon po konti po,” senior high student Analyn Barsolaso said.
“Wag na lang po ang hirap kasi sumakay eh. Wala kang masakyan lalo na maraming sasakay,” Barsolaso added.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board downplayed the impact of the transport strike, saying traffic flow and foot traffic are normal during the morning rush hours.
"Ang assessment po namin traffic is normal, turnout of passengers is normal. Key areas are only Novaliches, Commonwealth and Pasig. Other than that po normal ang sitwasyon ng trapiko," LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III said.
The agency said it has prepared for the three-day strike. Special permits were issued to drivers and operators to ply around 12 routes identified by the transport group PISTON. Local governments also provided free rides.
Some routes are situated not only in Quezon City but also in Manila, Pasig, Pasay, and Laguna.
LTFRB said it will issue a show cause order to jeepney drivers or operators who will attempt to harass or block those operating on the road to join the strike. A show cause order could mean possible suspension of their franchises.
“‘Pag sila po ay hindi sasali wala pong show cause order. ‘Pag sila po ay haharang sa daan, at pipilit sa ibang pampublikong sasakyan na sumama sa transport strike, magkakaroon po ng show cause order sa kanila at posible po na masuspinde ang kanilang prangkisa.”
LTFRB: TRANSPORT STRIKE TO END TODAY
Transport group PISTON mounted the three-day transport strike to protest against the upcoming deadline for the consolidation under the Public Utility Vehicles Modernization project.
LTFRB said the consolidation would make taking out loans from the bank easier for the jeepney units.
LTFRB Chairman Guadiz explained that they have made the consolidation process easier for the operators to comply with before the December 31, 2023 deadline. He said operators no longer need to complete the process but only need to file for consolidation.
Only 60 percent of public utility vehicles have consolidated nationwide as of October.
“Kakayanin po 'yan. Nung una napakaraming requirements. Ngayon po pinutol ang requirements. A mere filing would suffice na po to comply. Hindi mo kailangan tapusin lahat. As much as 85 percent po matutugunan hanggang the end of December,” Guadiz said.
Guadiz was supposed to meet with the transport group PISTON last Friday, but it did not push through. LTFRB said they asked to reschedule the discussion of their demands Monday afternoon. Some of the group’s demands are setting up a one-stop shop for a cooperative system, providing an option to upgrade existing traditional units, and leniency on PUV modernization program extension.
Guadiz said he is confident that the transport strike will end today.
“They (PISTON) rescheduled it on Monday, today, mamayang after lunch po. I have an arrangement to talk to them hopefully sa Monumento po magkikita kami sa gitna ng daan. Doon bubuoin namin ang aming usapan,” Guadiz said.
“Very confident at optimistic, 75 to 80 percent po magwawakas po ang tigil-pasada sa araw na ito,” Guadiz said.
On Saturday, the Department of Education said it will not issue class suspensions for the nationwide transport strike. The agency, however, emphasized that local government units have the discretion to suspend classes depending on the situation in their areas.
Some private schools have shifted to online because of the transport strike, particularly in Metro Manila.