CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — People who got the first taste of riding a modernized public utility vehicle (PUV) here have nothing but praises for the new transit system that will soon cater to the city and neighboring town’s commuters.
For Anita Labis, 66, who has been riding the jeepney all her life, taking a seat in an air-conditioned coaster was a surprise.
“This is nice. The seats are comfortable. It’s spacious,” Labis said, as the new PUV slowly made its way to Barangay Bugo, this city.
Bugo is on the other end of the loop that will take passengers from here all the way to Barangay Igpit, Opol town in Misamis Oriental, a 24.7-kilometer stretch of national highway, coastal thoroughfare, and diversion road.
Ken Punta, 21, a student in a state-run university, said, “I will definitely choose this modern PUJ over the old ones. I hope all our PUJs are like these.”
Labis and Punta are just two of the random passengers that have taken a free ride on the 15 units of modernized PUVs, owned and operated by the Oro Transport Services Cooperative (Otrosco), during its launch on Tuesday (Dec. 10).
Cagayan de Oro is the third city in Mindanao to adopt the PUVMP, with the cities of Butuan and General Santos already implementing this mass transport modernization.
Looking like a mini-bus than a jeepney, the new PUV can accommodate 25 persons and still have room for at least five standing passengers.
The fare for the Bugo-Igpit destination is P33, with the minimum fare of P9 and the discounted rate for senior citizens, students and persons with disabilities at P7.
Both enjoying discounted fares, Labis and Punta said they do not mind paying for higher fare as long as they are getting their money’s worth.
The modernized PUVs are compliant with the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), said Aminoden Guro, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-10 (LTFRB-10).
“Under the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, new PUVs must be equipped with global positioning system, dashboard camera, CCTV, wi-fi, an automatic fare collection system, and other amenities that will make the passengers’ trip comfortable and convenient,” Guro said.
He said Orotsco is the first transport cooperative that has acquired the new PUJs, but other groups will soon adopt the PUVMP in the coming months.
“Other cooperations and corporations are just waiting for the local public transport route plan being drafted by the RTA [Roads and Traffic Administration] to be completed,” Guro added.
Samuel Abella, Orotsco general manager, said they were able to avail a P32 million loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines to acquire the 15 PUV units, payable in seven years.
Once the modernized PUVs will become the preferred mode of transportation in the city, Abella said they may add more units once demand will increase.
He said the their income will be systematized as “tap cards” will be made available to passengers so they will no longer pay cash as fare. These cards will be reloadable in authorized outlets.
The cooperative’s drivers, he added, will now be paid weekly instead of the daily rental or “boundary.”
Abella added they are just waiting for the tap card provider to calibrate their automatic fare collection system machine and to orient their passenger assistance officers and drivers as they will be using new technologies that will be installed in the new PUVs.
Martin Delgra III, LTFRB chairman, said the PUVMP is the agency’s biggest towards achieving of having a modernized, comfortable and environment-friendly PUVs plying the country’s streets.
“It is the government’s largest non-infrastructure program that aims to modernize and transform the public transportation in the country, a transportation system that we can all use with ease, comfort and be proud of,” Delgra, in his message during Tuesday’s launch, said.
Arthur Tugade, DOTr secretary, said “the PUVMP is not just an overhaul for our existing public utility vehicles, but a complete turnaround on our overall public transport system should operate to benefit the Filipino people.”
For his part, Medel Afalla, officer-in-charge of the Office of the Transport Cooperatives, said PUVMP does not only refer to modernizing the vehicles but more on upgrading and reforming the entire public transport systems for responsive and efficient operations. Change in our behaviors and ways of providing service and doing business are also crucial.” (davaotoday.com)