CATCHING UP WITH THE TIMES. One of the modernized passenger jeepneys plying the streets of Bacolod City on Monday (Sept. 12, 2022). Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez said on Wednesday (Sept. 14, 2022) that more modernized PUJ units will soon operate in the city in line with the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program. (PNA Bacolod file photo)

BACOLOD CITY – Close to 50 modernized public utility jeepneys (PUJs) are already plying the streets of this city starting this week as part of the implementation of the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

As of Wednesday, 45 units covering two routes were the latest to start trips after four units from two other routes started to operate in February and July this year.

Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez said passengers are now looking for a better version of the passenger jeepney and operators who will not acquire a modernized unit will be put at a disadvantage.

“There will be more (of these modernized jeepneys),” he added.

Some 25 units plying the Bata-Libertad loop and 20 for the Alijis-Downtown route operated by MBMJ and Uy Transport Services Inc. started their trips on Monday.

These air-conditioned PUJ units, each manned by a two-man team of a driver and a conductor, are equipped with closed circuit television cameras and a global positioning system tracking device.

The minimum fare is PHP13, higher by PHP2 compared to the existing rate for ordinary PUJ units.

Both the driver and conductor will be paid a minimum wage of PHP450 for every eight hours of work plus overtime pay and will get government-mandated benefits such as Social Security System and Pag-IBIG contributions.

Meanwhile, another operator, Loverboy Soberano Transport Corp., also has an initial fleet of 30 units that will soon ply the northbound Terminal-Libertad route.

Last February, the first modernized jeepney in the city started serving the Eroreco-Central Market route while three for Homesite-Central Market trips started operating in July. (PNA)