DOTr to recommend hike in PUV passenger capacity

Asia's Tech News Daily

© The STAR / Michael Varcas, file DOTr to recommend hike in PUV passenger capacity

MANILA, Philippines — With the easing of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is targeting a significant increase in the passenger capacity of public utility vehicles (PUVs), which currently stands at 50 percent.

The DOTr said its road sector would submit a recommendation to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Transportation Assistant Secretary for road transport and infrastructure Mark Steven Pastor said the extent of the increase is still being studied, but it would likely be substantial.

“The increase will be significant. What (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade wants is that our proposal to the IATF will not only be based on technical expertise, but also backed up by medical studies that the increase will be safe,” Pastor said at a virtual briefing yesterday.

“But what we can promise is we are studying it well and we are getting relevant data and studies to back up this potential increase so that we can help our operators and drivers,” he said.

The DOTr said Tugade’s instruction is for the increase in passenger capacity to be progressive and compliant with the mandates of local government units and the IATF.

The plan to increase the passenger capacity, according to Pastor, is being eyed as the number of commuters is steadily rising, especially with Metro Manila now under Alert Level 3 up to Oct. 31.

At the same time, the move is also seen to aid drivers and operators as they struggle with soaring fuel prices.

“We are looking to increase the seating capacity in public transportation as an answer to growing expenses in the day-to-day operations of our operators and at the same time, this will also address calls of those in the business sector to spur economic activities and we could be contributing to that through the increase in our public transportation and the capacity thereof,” Pastor said.

He said “random inspection” will continue to ensure PUVs stick to capacity limit “while we are still ironing out our request to the IATF to increase the seating capacity.”

Pastor said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is reviewing fare hike petitions filed by transport groups.

“With the guidance of Secretary Tugade, we will balance the interest. We recognize and we feel the need of the drivers and operators, but at the same time, let’s look for solutions that would not affect the majority which are the commuters,” LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra said.

“Moving forward, we are looking for alternatives which are fuel-related for that matter. Fuel price solutions to cushion the impact of the increase in fuel prices,” he said.

The DOTr has already sent a letter to the Department of Energy (DOE), asking it to require fuel stations to give PUVs substantial discounts.

The DOTr and the DOE are also in talks for a possible reactivation of the fuel subsidy cards under the Pantawid Pasada program.

“Once we get a source of funding for this, we are ready to implement the program,” Pastor said.

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