OTC: There will be enough PUVs in unconsolidated routes by February 1

OTC chair Andy Ortega (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

The Office of Transportation Cooperatives (OTC) has assured on Monday there would be enough public utility vehicles (PUV) operating in all routes nationwide, including those without unconsolidated jeepneys, by February 1.

OTC chair Andy Ortega said replacing PUVs that failed to comply with the consolidation requirement of the government is a top priority of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and other government agencies, including local government units (LGUs).

Unconsolidated individual operators have only until January 31 only to operate. “Our  coordination is ongoing because it is of utmost importance that we could provide transportation, for the commuting public,” Ortega said in an interview on Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon aired over People’s Television Network.

In the National Capital Region (NCR), he said longer and larger routes with several consolidated operators can cover smaller unconsolidated routes. “For the shorter distance routes, almost no one consolidated, but those are usually passed through by longer routes with more vehicles,” he added.

DOTr earlier said Special Permits will be issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to operators that can also cover routes run by unconsolidated operators. “We also have alternative modes of transportation which our commuters can take,” he assured.

In a separate televised interview over CNN, LTFRB Chair Teofilo Guadiz III said “rescue vehicles” will be dispatched to augment routes with fewer PUVs. “On February 1, on the assumption that there really is shortage, there are what we call rescue vehicles,” he said.

The rescue vehicles will be deployed for one to two weeks — enough time to ensure that there are enough special permits issued, he added. Guadiz, however, said there is a need to trim down PUVs, especially in the NCR, based on several LTFRB studies. 

These studies, he said, showed instances of “duplication” where some jeepneys ply routes that are already served by other jeepney units plying adjoining or longer routes.

Earlier, transport group Piston claimed there are 395 jeepney routes and 108 UV (Utility Vans) Express routes in NCR that have no consolidated PUVs, in addition to 337 jeepney routes and 68 UV Express routes that have less than 60 percent consolidation.

The government, however, remains firm on its deadline for the consolidation component of the PUV modernization program on December 31, 2023. If it is  unconsolidated, a PUV will not be issued a confirmation by the LTFRB and will not be able to register with the Land Transportation Office, making it a “colorum” that will be legally banned from operating.