LTFRB 7: Transport cooperatives still able to repay loans

THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Central Visayas (LTFRB 7) denies that transport cooperatives are having a hard time repaying the loans used in acquiring modern public utility vehicles (MPUVs).

But some MPUVs are now just on standby since all traditional jeepneys have been allowed to ply all routes, which has affected the income of MPUV operators.

Transport cooperatives are given assistance by the government through a subsidy during the acquisition of an MPUV funded by different financial institutions like banks, LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. told SunStar Cebu Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023.

The subsidy for the loan equity of the operator or cooperative that wants to acquire a modern PUV is P160,000 per unit.

On Feb. 20, transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) Cebu chapter had filed a petition before the LTFRB asking the latter to suspend the mandatory franchise consolidation and issue a five-year franchise to all public utility vehicles (PUVs).

The group reasoned that drivers and operators are forced to join cooperatives but those who have already joined are lamenting the difficulty of earning enough money just to pay back the loan.

Montealto denied the claims of the group and said that based on his dialogue with the transport cooperatives, the only concern that the latter raised is the presence of more traditional jeepneys on the road which they consider to be competitors.

“Some modernized public utility jeepneys are now just on standby because we already allowed all the traditional jeepneys to return. We allowed them to return while they have not yet modernized, and they ended up competing with MPUVs on their routes,” Montealto said in Cebuano.

But Montealto said he had talked with the transport cooperatives and asked them to deploy all their MPUVs during rush hours.

According to Montealto, there are around 2,000 traditional jeepneys plying Cebu roads, while there are only 1,214 MPUVs.

He said that for some cooperatives, there are 10 to 15 MPUV units not being used due to the competition for passengers on the road.

Montealto said this dilemma will be solved once all local government units in Cebu approve and adopt their respective Local Public Transport Route Plans (LPTRP). Once an LPTRP is in place, all routes within the locality will be rationalized as underserved and overserved routes will be identified.

Ellen Maghanoy of the El Pardo Transport Cooperative said in a separate interview Tuesday that what Montealto disclosed about the competition for passengers is happening on the roads.

Maghanoy said passengers would choose to ride a traditional jeepney rather than an MPUV since the minimum fare of a traditional jeepney is P12, while that of the air-conditioned MPUV is P14.

“You will lose money if you ply your routes. You have to pay for the driver. You also lose money on diesel, especially since prices today are high,” Maghanoy said in Cebuano.

Maghanoy said a single MPUV costs around P2.7 million, which is acquired by a cooperative through loans.

The cooperative will have to pay a monthly amortization of P33,000 for seven years if the loan is availed of through government banks, but P45,000 to P50,000 for five years if private banks, she added.