DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 February) – The city’s High Priority Bus System (HPBS) will require around 10,000 jobs when it gets fully implemented by 2021, City Assistant Administrator lawyer Tristan Dwight Domingo said.
Domingo told a press briefing on Thursday that the city’s 7,200 jeepney drivers and operators may apply for new jobs under the HPBS if they pass the bus driving accreditation of the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA).
While the HPBS will only need around 1,000 bus drivers, Domingo said there are positions for mechanics and other maintenance-related jobs.
Under HPBS, low-floor city buses will replace the jeepneys.
He added the government will provide trainings through TESDA, as they seek to professionalize the workforce of the bus operators who are expected to serve 29 routes.
Under the HPBS, the official said “everybody will hopefully be employed under the regular employment, not just a boundary system.”
Domingo added the local government plans to implement the bus service within the second semester of 2019, deploying at least 25 low-floor or city buses for the interim phase.
City Planning and Development Office head Ivan Cortez said earlier that five routes serving the central business district will be opened initially.
The official said the city government will set aside P30 to P45 million for the initial phase to provide support for affected drivers and operators and establish bus stops.
He said the city government is working with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to come up with a compensation package for jeepney drivers and operators in the form of cash, unlike the financing scheme provided by DOTr’s PUV modernization program in which the drivers can get a subsidy worth P80,000 as an equity to buy the modern jeepneys.
He said Mayor Sara Duterte told a team doing the study on the city’s traffic situation that when the bus service is implemented, the “jeepney operators and drivers should not be worse off.”
He said the local government wants “outright cash” to be given to affected drivers and operators since some of them may not qualify as bus drivers due to age requirement or failure to pass the TESDA certification.
Domingo admitted a lot of things have to be changed, including the attitude of commuters, in implementing the HPBS to achieve a more efficient public transport system.
He said when people see the public transport system is efficient, they would take the buses instead of using their cars, reducing traffic congestion. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)