Piston Cebu asks LGUs to give returning PUJ drivers ‘leeway’

THE Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) Cebu asked local government units (LGUs) to forego unnecessary fees for jeepney drivers who have resumed operating.

The group also welcomed the move of the Cebu City Government to allow traditional public utility jeepneys (TPUJs) to ply their original routes in the city after more than a year of halt.

Greg Perez, Piston Cebu chairman, said LGUs should not make things difficult for jeepney drivers who have been without a livelihood for over a year.

“There should be no more pending fines to pay, swab testing should be free and we should not be required to undergo another seminar that will cost us too. All these have different fees,” he said in Cebuano.

He assured that drivers will implement the set minimum health and safety protocols while in transit.

Perez, in a statement, said the group has long been pushing for the reopening of the TPUJs’ old routes. The issuance of Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella’s Executive Order 131 last May 27 was a positive development.

In a separate development, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7 Director Eduardo Montealto said the Free-Ride Service Contracting Program of the government will, initially, end this month.

As of May 27, a total of 159 modern public utility jeepneys (MPUJs), public utility buses, tourist vans and tourist buses have been operating under the program.

Asked of any possible delays in the release of incentives to drivers and operators, Montealto said they cannot confirm, as operators volunteered to start even before their contracts were completed.

“The weekly payouts are initially shouldered by willing operators, but once the contracts are completed we are pretty sure that payouts can already be on time,” he said.

“However, there is an initial subsidy to the drivers on the service-contracting and there are some of them (who) received direct to their accounts,” he added.

He said most of the contracts have been prepared, but some of the drivers’ data sheets and their accounts which were found to have errors were returned for updating and corrections.

Under the second scheme of the free-ride service, bus operators will receive an incentive of P82 per kilometer that they will cover. MPUJs will get P45 per kilometer covered. Thirty percent of that incentive goes to the driver while 70 percent goes to the operator.

Under the first scheme of the program that started in January, drivers are paid P11 per kilometer covered while the payment of other passengers (non-health care workers) goes to operators. (WBS)