One of the most heartbreaking side effects of the many health concerns, protocols and movement restrictions that were implemented nationwide in the advent of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic was the loss of jobs in lines of work that posed too much risk of infection and spread. This is the sad story of the drivers and operators of the Philippines’ iconic public transport, the jeepney. Particularly in Metro Manila, despondent and desperate drivers have petitioned government regulators to let them operate before they and their families starve. Only in recent days have limited jeepneys been allowed to ply their set routes. Now more of them will be rotated into Manila’s streets.
CNN Philippines has it that effective this Wednesday, July 29, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is giving the go-ahead for close to 2,000 jeepneys to once again operate in designated routes around Metro Manila. An LTFRB memorandum circular (2020-029) dated Monday, July 27, announced that 1,943 public utility jeepneys will join the initial number of vehicles that are now cleared to begin running passenger duties again without having to bother with special permits. The aforementioned PUJs all operate on 17 specific routes within the National Capital Region.
Any jeepney driver that plies one of the reopened routes needs only to be issued a QR code for their vehicle from the LTFRB. The printed codes must be posted visibly on their PUJs so that they can be scanned by enforcers. Road worthiness registrations with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and validated personal passenger insurance policies will also be required before each of those near-2,000 jeepneys will be allowed to roll out. They will also have to follow the standing LTFRB fare matrix of P9 for the first four kilometers with an additional P1.50 for every extra kilometer traveled.
The nightmare of prohibited operation for many jeepney drivers since March 2020 began to end this month with the LTFRB approval of an initial 2,000 followed by 6,000 PUJS being allowed to travel Metro Manila once more as quarantine regulations began easing up. These transports however musts till toe certain health and safety protocols against COVID-19, from 50% carrying capacity to force social distancing, mandatory wearing of facemask for drivers and their passengers, and a means of checking body temperature. Outside of the capital, especially in MGCQ areas, jeepney, e-jeep and multi-cab operations have not been as clamped down on, though the same health protocols as elsewhere are carried out.
Image courtesy of GMA News