Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chair Cheloy Garafil (PNA photo)

MANILA – Around 1,000 additional units will ply in the public utility vehicle (PUV) routes as more students and pedestrians return to the streets, according to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday.

This as the LTFRB continues to reopen the pre-pandemic PUV routes all over the country to ensure sufficient capacity in public transport.

In a Laging Handa briefing on Wednesday, LTFRB chair Cheloy Garafil said the reopening of 133 bus, jeepney, and UV express routes in Metro Manila on Monday is only the start.

“Continuous ang aming pag-aaral with respect doon sa mga additional na ruta na bubuksan po natin up until November kapag full blast na po ang ating face-to-face classes (We are continuously looking into opening additional routes until November when face-to-face classes are on full blast),” Garafil said.

Of the 33 city bus pre-pandemic routes that were recently reopened, she said 28 are operational and the rest still applying for their special permit.

These 28 routes, she said, is made up of about 3,000 city buses -- with the LTFRB expecting 4,000 more buses to apply for a special permit.

“Inaayos pa nila ang ilang dokumento sa LTO [Land Transportation Office] dahil nga marami sa kanila hindi nakapagrehistro during the pandemic. Pero sa mga susunod na araw inaasahan po natin na may 1,000 pa more or less, ang unit na maaaplayan dito sa ating mga PUV routes (They are still working on some documents at the LTO because many failed to register their vehicles during the pandemic. But in the next few days we’re expecting more or less 1,000 units to apply in these PUV routes),” she said.

To date, she said the LTFRB continues to accept applications for these special permits.

She added that jeepney and UV Express routes are not yet at full capacity as many of their PUVs need maintenance after being out of operation for so long.

“Marami pong mga mechanical consideration at saka mga administrative na issues pa na kanilang inaayos (They have many mechanical considerations and administrative issues that are being fixed),” he said.

She noted that these jeepney and UV Express routes do not face similar problems as bus routes as they do not need a special permit, only a valid franchise.

She also called on the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and local government units to refrain from apprehending PUVs with violations related to their franchise to ensure that there are enough PUVs on the roads.

In the rest of the country, LTFRB regional directors reported the smooth redeployment of pre-pandemic routes.

“Tuluy-tuloy naman po ang kanilang pakikipag-ugnayan sa mga operators at saka sa mga drivers para mapunan iyong mga issues pa na kinakaharap natin sa public sector (They are continuously engaging with operators and drivers to address issues in the public sector),” she said.

Earlier, the LTFRB released Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2022-067 and MC No. 2022-068 to allow the reopening of 33 city bus routes, 68 modern and traditional jeepneys, and 32 modern and traditional UV Express routes. (PNA)