The Philippines’ king of the road may be back in business very soon. That is if the best laid plans do not miscarry.
We’re referring here to the ubiquitous jeepneys which once ruled the roads in Metro Manila and environs until Covid19 knocked them out cold – like what Manny Pacquiao did to the UK’s Ricky Hatton – when the national government with one fell swoop ordered them off the roads as part of restrictions designed to curb the unmitigated spread of the virus.
There is one catch, however, because according to Department of Transportation (DOTr) assistant secretary Bert Suansing in a recent radio interview, they could be consigned to so-called “feeder routes” or side streets in line with the government’s ongoing mass transport modernization program which promotes fuel efficiency and safety and comfort of the riding public.
Suansing said the scenario being pushed by the DOTr is to limit traditional jeepneys to numerous secondary routes that line the metropolis where they would serve as “passenger feeders” for modern passenger buses and other high-capacity electric-powered PUVs which are the only ones permitted to ply main routes like EDSA, Commonwealth, Quezon Blvd., E. Rodriguez, Espana, Taft Ave., etc.
Public transportation leaders like Obet Martin (Pasang Masda), Zeny Maranan (FEJODAP), George San Mateo (Piston) and Efren de Luna (ACTO) will surely not take this sitting down for it would negatively impact on the daily earnings of thousands of members.
A ray of hope was floated by presidential spokesman Harry Roque who said traditional jeepneys might be allowed (“provided they are roadworthy”} should the supply of modern PUVs fail to cope with the demand of commuters to allow them to return to work under the “new normal” amid the Covid pandemic.