By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter
THE Transportation department said it will proceed with the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP) after funding for the program was left off the department’s 2023 budget proposal.
“Kung sakaling hindi mabigyan ng pondo o hindi magkaroon ng amendment upang magkaroon ng budget ang PUVMP, hindi pa rin magkakaroon ng suspensyon sa implementasyon ng programa (In the event that no funds are allocated or an amendment in the budget does not materialize to allow funding for the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program, it will not be suspended),” Transportation Undersecretary Mark Steven C. Pastor told BusinessWorld recently.
The department had proposed a P788-million 2023 budget for the program, but this item was not included in the National Expenditure Program, the document outlining the government’s budget proposal to Congress.
Mr. Pastor said the requested funding was meant to support the PUVMP’s “stakeholder support programs and the operationalization of PUVMP Project Management Offices.”
“Kaya naman patuloy na nila-lobby ng DoTr ang kaukulang pondo para sa PUVMP upang walang maantalang mga aktibidad (The DoTr continues to lobby for funding to ensure the program is not disrupted),” Mr. Pastor said.
He said the department remains hopeful for funding. The project was one of the previous administration’s leading modernization initiatives.
“Naniniwala ang Department of Transportation (DoTr) na mabibigyan pa rin ang programa ng kinakailangan nitong budget sa tulong at suporta ng ating mga mambabatas throughan amendment (The DoTr believes legislators will support the program by intervening via amendments to the budget),” he said.
Last week, Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista welcomed the House’s approval of the 2023 DoTr budget, which amounts to P167.12 billion.
The PUVMP calls for a “restructured, modern, well-managed and environmentally sustainable transport sector where drivers and operators have stable, sufficient and dignified livelihoods while commuters get to their destinations quickly, safely and comfortably,” according to a Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) description of the program on its website.
In an appearance on Monday on the One Balita Pilipinas program of One PH, the Filipino-language cable news channel of Cignal TV, Elvira Medina, chairperson of the National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection, said the commuters she represents want “full modernization” of PUVs.
Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators President Orlando Marquez said 50% of the traditional jeepneys have yet to display the new fare matrix.
LTFRB Chairperson Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil has required PUVs to display prominently the new fare matrix before they are allowed to collect new fares.
The LTFRB announced on Sept. 16 new fares for PUVs to take effect on Oct. 3.
The minimum fare for traditional jeepneys is now P12, up from P11 previously. Modern jeepneys can charge P14, up from P13; ordinary city buses P13 (from P11), air-conditioned city buses P15 (from P13), ordinary provincial buses P11 (from P9), and deluxe provincial buses P2.10 per kilometer (from P1.55).
The flag-down rate for taxis is now P45, up from P40 previously.