The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is recommending that the country’s current public transport infrastructure be allowed to carry more passengers to improve revenue for operators and drivers, in light of successive oil price increases.
In lieu of raising fares, the DOTr recommends allowing PUVs to carry more passengers
According to Assistant Secretary for Road and Transport Infrastructure Steve Pastor, the department has submitted its position paper to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID). This was announced during the hearing by the Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Finance over the proposed 2022 budget for the DOTr and its attached agencies.
“Nakapag-submit na po ang road sector ng formal position paper na i-increase ang seating capacity from 50 percent na para po sa amin, kung masusunod ang kagawaran, ay pwedeng maging 100% based on medical literature that is available,” he said.
(The road sector has submitted a formal position paper that will increase seating capacity from 50 percent which, if the department will be so permitted, could be up to 100 percent based on available medical literature)
Public transport vehicles are currently allowed to ferry half their passenger capacity at any given time
Quarantine restrictions have affected revenue streams for public transport drivers, with limited passenger capacities enforced as part of minimum public health protocols. Pastor explains that increasing passenger load is an alternative to raising fares outright since the commuting public should not bear the burden of oil price increases. He adds that the department is ready to defend its proposal before the IATF-EID, as the issue is both a matter of public transportation and public health.
The DOTr’s proposal designates a pilot run in Metro Manila, citing the downgraded alert level in the metropolis which has allowed more businesses to open and increased demand for public transport.
Rising world oil prices are eating into the meager income of PUV drivers
It further says that over 80 percent of Metro Manila residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and that a rapid analysis of available COVID-19 data across 10 countries showed no correlation between public transport capacity and COVID-19 cases.
Earlier, the agency was able to facilitate the release of Php 1 billion to the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), which will be distributed as fuel subsidies to benefit 178,000 public transport drivers. Some Php 4.7 billion have also been paid to drivers and operators under the DOTr’s Service Contracting Program which provided free rides to frontliners.
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Joseph Paolo Estabillo