The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in Manila, Philippines has extended the deadline for jeepney operators to join cooperatives or companies, or face a ban from the roads until the end of this year. LTFRB Chairman Teofilo Guadiz III announced on Wednesday that a new memorandum notice would be issued to extend the jeepney phase-out period until December 31, 2023.
Previously, regulators had required jeepney operators to consolidate their franchises under a cooperative or company to keep their jeepneys on the road after the deadline, or even until the end of this year. However, transport groups opposing the government’s plan to replace traditional jeepneys with minibuses said the new units were too expensive to afford, leading them to stage a week-long strike in protest.
The LTFRB’s announcement comes as a week-long transport strike is set to begin on Monday and a day before a Senate hearing on the government’s push to modernize public utility vehicles. Despite claims of pressure from transport groups, Guadiz denied that their decision was influenced by them and stated that 90 percent of the transport sector supported the plan to replace traditional jeepneys with smaller coaches.
He also stated that the LTFRB “respected” the Senate resolution strongly urging the board to delay the jeepney phase-out, as well as Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista’s request to “allow more time for consolidation in the transportation sector,” which resulted in the deadline being pushed back.
As part of the current PUV modernization plan, operators must relinquish their separate franchises to integrate into the fleet management system, in which cooperatives must purchase 15 imported minibuses per route. However, according to Piston, only large companies can afford to buy the required 15 minibuses and run a route without incurring debt.