It also urged the agency to suspend the mandatory franchise consolidation that requires all PUV drivers and operators to join a cooperative to be issued a franchise to operate.
These are two of the seven demands in the petition that the group filed in the LTFRB 7 office on Monday, Feb. 20, 2023.
Gregory Perez, Piston Cebu chapter chairman, said they also want the LTFRB to allow the sale and transfer of the franchise so new owners can register the document in their name.
He said the LTFRB should restore all PUV routes and provide more fuel subsidies and financial assistance to drivers and operators.
The group also urged the LTFRB to continue the suspension of collecting late filing fees and temporarily suspend the implementation of the Public Transport Online Processing System.
Perez said drivers and operators are forced to join cooperatives just to be given a provisional authority or franchise that is only valid for one year.
He explained that under the PUV Modernization Program, all individual drivers and operators must form a cooperative that is supposed to assist them in acquiring modern PUV units.
Drivers and operators who have not yet joined or consolidated a cooperative only have until March 31, 2023, to comply.
But Perez lamented that the deadline should be extended to allow studies and consultations to address drivers and operators who cannot afford to buy a modern PUV, which costs around P2.4 million per unit.
“Dili nato pugson ang mga operator nga mo sulod gyud og kooperatiba nga dili man nila kaya ang kamahalon sa mga sakyanan (We shouldn’t force operators to join a cooperative if they cannot afford the cost of the vehicle),” he said.
Perez clarified that they are not against the creation of transport cooperatives.
However, he said the LTFRB needs to revisit some processes and guidelines to help drivers and operators.
Last week, the LTFRB Central Office extended the the franchise validity of traditional jeepneys until the end of April, giving their operators and drivers more time to form cooperatives.
Perez pointed out that the promised financial support from the national government amounting to P160,000 for drivers or operators that acquire a modern PUV has not been downloaded to the financial institutions that provide the loans, he said.
“Naglisod sila karon, mga modernized man or dili, nga naa sa kooperatiba (Those who joined cooperatives are having a hard time). Nagproblema sila sa datahan nila matag bulan (They have a problem meeting the monthly amortization),” said Perez.
Perez said some drivers and operators who want to leave their cooperatives are hampered by strenuous processes.
The Federation of Cebu Transport Cooperatives had sent a letter to the LTFRB last Jan. 19 to express its opposition to another extension of permits for traditional jeepneys to operate.
It said its members may not be able to pay the bank loans used in acquiring modern PUVs because of the uncontrolled number of traditional jeepneys plying Cebu has affected their income.
In a separate interview, LTFRB 7 chief transportation development officer Reynaldo Elnar said the concerns of Piston will be tackled during the agency’s conference in April.
Elnar said he told members of the transport group that all of these regulations are products of various orders and memoranda from the LTFRB’s central office in Manila.
He stressed that only their central office can act on the concerns that the Piston Cebu chapter brought up.
Elnar said all transportation routes in Central Visayas are already open to PUVs to ply.
In Cebu, he said, around 80 percent of the drivers and operators have already been consolidated.
In March 2018, the LTFRB issued a memorandum circular that required the consolidation of franchises to create bigger fleets to ensure a more efficient system of transportation.