MANILA -- An official of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Wednesday said jeepney operators and drivers must form cooperatives to facilitate easier access to financial institutions and ensure efficient public transportation in the country.

The DOTr envisions for the public transportation system to become an organized public transport service, which will be run by financially-capable franchise holders through the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

“We should veer away from looking this as a livelihood but as a form of public transport services. Public transport must be considered as an organized public transport business. Franchises should be given to financially capable jeepney operators,” DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark de Leon said in a press briefing held at the Malacañang Palace.

Among the benefits of consolidation to drivers and operators include access to credit facilities, organized operators and drivers, enhancement of service quality of public transport, and reduction of competition, among others.

“Our public transportation system is disorganized because it is individualistic in nature; no system, no efficiency. Unlike in other countries, Singapore for that matter they have only three operators that ensures the public transportation is being run efficiently. Consolidated ang operations… That is the transportation system we are pursuing, a semblance of efficiency, a semblance of an organized system,” de Leon said.

“Instead of individual operators and drivers, the franchises will be given to cooperatives that will ensure financial viability of the operations because their fleet management and dispatchment are efficient. This is our basic policy,” he added.

A total of 486 cooperatives were already formed under the PUVMP as of September 2018.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has set up a one-stop shop facility in Mandaluyong City, which houses different government agencies, for faster and efficient processing of franchise and new route applications, among others.

The DOTr is also conducting workshops and seminars among local government units to implement their respective route rationalization plans, which will be used for the deployment of modern public utility vehicles based on passenger demand.

“Route rationalization will ensure the financial viability of operations. Rationalization looks on the demand for certain routes and determine the number of units that must be deployed on these routes,” de Leon said.

The DOTr aims to deploy higher capacity vehicles such as public utility buses to routes that have high demand, such as national highways and other major roads nationwide.

As of Sept. 17, 2018, 49 out of 59 batches have finished the two-part course in drafting the Local Public Transportation Route Plan. The plan is delegated to the LGUs as they are in a better position to determine local transport service requirements. The capacity building sessions are expected to conclude on October 5.

Through the PUVMP, the DOTr has opened 15 operational routes for modern jeepneys in the National Capital Region, Western and Central Visayas.

The program aims to replace around 179,000 jeepneys nationwide with passenger utility vehicles with Euro 4 engines or electrically-powered engines and solar panels for roofs.

These jeepneys will also be equipped with closed-circuit television cameras, a GPS navigation system, an automatic fare collection system, speed limiters, dashboard cameras, and Wi-Fi. (PNA)