Davao City bids goodbye to old jeeps

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 March) —  The city’s streets will soon be rid of public utility jeepneys (PUJs) that are over 15 years old and no longer roadworthy as the local government prepares to implement modernization of the public transportation system here.

Nonito Llanos III, regional director of the Land Transportation Franchising and regulatory Board (LTFRB) told a virtual presser on Friday that owners of jeepneys that will be scrapped will be paid per unit based on their appraised value while the local government prepares to shift to the High Priority Bus System (HPBS).

Asked when this will be implemented, Llanos told MindaNews on Sunday: “It would be best for the city government to answer this because they’re the ones managing the timelines with the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) HPBS.”

Policemen check out improper use of face masks and shields inside passenger jeepneys at the MacArthur Highway in Matina, Davao City in this file photo taken on 16 June 2021. MindaNews photo by GREGORIO C. BUENO

Under HPBS, low-floor city buses will replace the jeepneys.

Last month, the Senate urged the LTFRB to postpone its plan to phase out traditional jeepneys nationwide by June 30 in line with the implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP). The deadline was later extended to December 31, 2023. 

A planned week-long strike last week that started Monday last week was lifted on the second day after a dialogue in Malacanang with transport groups Manibela and PISTON. 

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last Wednesday thanked transport groups for lifting the strike and vowed they would review the modernization program. 

Marcos said the December deadline would give them enough time to ensure the modernization program will address the concerns raised by transport groups. 

In Davao City, Retired Col. Dionesio Abude, head of the City Transportation and Traffic Management Office,  said the local government hopes to see HPBS running during the last quarter of 2024.

Llanos said the amount that will be received by owners of  old jeepneys for every unit scrapped will be on top of the financial, technical, and livelihood assistance that the government will provide as part of the social development package for affected drivers and operators.

Llanos noted that the private sector is set to establish a “scrapping facility” in the city. 

15-year old jeepneys

Engr. Ronnel Victor Panigon, focal person for PUV Modernization Program of the LTFRB-Davao, explained that only those units that are over 15 years old and no longer roadworthy would be scrapped.

If these old jeepneys pass the roadworthiness assessment of the Land Transportation Office-Davao, owners can keep them but only for private use.

Retired Col. Dionesio Abude, head of the City Transportation and Traffic Management Office, added that drivers of the scrapped jeepneys will be prioritized for hiring by operators of the HPBS buses but they will be required to undergo training with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to equip them with skills before they can qualify to be bus drivers. 

He said the affected drivers can also work as mechanics and other related positions for the maintenance of the units at the terminal depots.

In February 2019, the local government announced the HPBS, then targeted for implementation by 2021, will employ around 1,000 bus drivers.

The number of jeepney drivers in the city then was 7,200. 

According to the Department of Transportation (DOTr), HPBS will have 29 bus routes divided into four tiers: MetroDavao will form the core services that connect all major commercial centers along five routes, DavaoInter will run along with eight routes connecting the inner urban areas directly to the Davao Central Business District, DavaoFeeder will run along nine routes linking smaller centers and areas of more dispersed populations to the MetroDavao services, and DavaoLocal will provide a link between the outer rural areas of the city and main transport system or the integrated terminals. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)