Tuesday, January 19, 2021

More Than 124k Drivers, Operators Join Transport Cooperatives

More Than 124k Drivers, Operators Join Transport Cooperatives

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A total 124,443 drivers and franchise owners and operators have joined accredited transport cooperatives ready for franchise consolidation, the first step to conform with the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) which aims to provide a safer, more efficient, and more environment- friendly public transportation system.

Celebrating 47 years of its National Transport Cooperative Program, the Office of Transport Cooperatives (OTC), along with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and other transport agencies, lauded the more than one thousand transport cooperatives and members who have supported the agency’s program’s since its foundation in 1973, while also propagating the benefits of the PUV Modernization Program.

According to DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Steve Pastor, this number signifies the many individual operators, franchise owners, and public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers who are heeding the call for a better transport system in the country.

“The number of accredited transport cooperatives have also grown since our last report in July. We have accredited 84 more transport cooperatives in just over three months, making a total of 1,316 transport cooperatives nationwide,” said Pastor.

OTC Executive Director Eugene M. Pabualan said that they continue to receive application for franchise consolidation from transport cooperatives nationwide, the deadline of which has been moved back six months further to December 2020. The call for creation of transport cooperatives for franchise consolidation was launched in 2017.

To apply for franchise consolidation, existing franchise owners of a single route must first form an entity, cooperative, or corporation with at least fifteen (15) units up for consolidation. The cooperative will then file for accreditation under the office of the OTC, while corporations will be accredited by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The approval process, meanwhile, can take as early as a month as long as all requirements are complete according to the OTC.

Once accredited, the formed entity can begin the application for consolidation which includes submitting the necessary requirements and application forms available for download at the official Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) website.

The transport cooperative or corporation can then proceed to the modernization of their units, where they can apply for financial assistance through government loan programs with Landbank and the Development Bank of the Philippines. The last step is to apply for route rationalization.

“By forming a cooperative, the operators are strengthening their financial capacity in acquiring the PUVMP-compliant units with the requirements for roadworthiness such as new engines with lower emissions, an AFCS system, CCTVs and GPS, among others,” said ED Pabualan. “Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak, we commend the members of our transport cooperatives, both old and new, who continue to ensure unimpeded service while safeguarding the health and welfare of commuters”

Should operators or owners of PUVs, especially public jeepneys, be unable to apply for consolidation, the DOTr and LTFRB has expressed that a probationary authority (PA) will be granted on an annual basis as long as the units pass the computerized Motor Vehicle Inspection Station (MVIS) test for roadworthiness and express their intent to file for consolidation.

Earlier this year, the DOTr and LTFRB announced the extension of the deadline for consolidation from June 18 to December 31 due to the pandemic.

“The DOTr and the LTFRB will issue PAs so long as the units pass the standards of roadworthiness. The newly opened routes will be available to any formed cooperative or cooperation that wishes to enter and apply,” said LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III. “In light of the current health crisis, the LTFRB along with the DOTr decided to extend the deadline for consolidation. It must be noted that the said deadline only pertains to the application of franchise consolidation, not for the immediate modernization of units.”

“The intent of the PUV Modernization Program is not only vehicle modernization but a comprehensive system reform that also includes regulatory reform focused on roadworthiness and assured continued service,” said Pastor. “As seen by the pandemic, there is a need for a better transport system to assure safety and health of passengers in the long run.”

“Thus we are encouraging all franchise owners and transport groups to consolidate their units now. Along with our attached transport agencies, we are envisioning that even more transport coops will begin the modernization process in the following year,” he added.

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