A Transport Cooperative operating in Metro Manila has reported zero findings of infected passengers or drivers since the operation of their modern jeepney units in early March.
According to The Taguig Transport Cooperative Chairman Freddie Hernandez, their cooperative was contracted by the local government unit (LGU) of Taguig to assist in transporting medical front liners during the height of the pandemic where majority of public utility vehicles (PUVs) were suspended.
“I’m very happy to say that based from contact tracing reports, we have not received any cases of drivers or passengers getting infected from riding in our vehicles. Kaya nung pinili yung coop namin para maging partner nila para sa paghatid ng mga front liners within Taguig, tinanggap ko agad kasi malaki ang tulong nito para sa mga front liners at sa gobyerno, at para din sa mga draybers naming para kumita din sila,” Hernandez said.
The Taguig Transport Cooperative is one of the first cooperatives to have undergone the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) back in November 2017. The cooperative, which currently has around 150 drivers and 88 modern units, are currently plying the main service road in Taguig under the PUVMP’s route rationalization plan.
Under the guidelines approved by Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), the cooperative has complied with safety and health protocols such as the mandatory use of face masks, availability of disinfectants such as hand sanitizers and foot baths, enforced physical distancing between passengers, limited passenger capacity, and other protective measures such as vehicle barriers.
“In our vehicles, passengers are observing at one-meter of physical distancing,” highlighted Hernandez. “Our drivers have also been careful to observe personal safety precautions such as wearing of face masks and other protective gear.”
The cooperative has also been in coordination with the LGU of Taguig for contact tracers to monitor and ensure that passengers are strictly following guidelines when riding public transport.
Hernandez ensured that the cooperative is willing to comply with any further health and safety protocols, which for them played a huge role in the mitigation of virus transmission within their vehicles.
Furthermore, despite the limited passenger capacity affecting their income, Hernandez stated that their cooperative has been benefiting from the programs of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
“The bank loan programs under the program has been helpful for the cooperative because they have extended the grace period of any amortization payments without any interest. In fact, payments have been waived for the rest of the year, and according to the banks, we will resume payments in January next year,” explained Hernandez.
Aside from waived fees, Hernandez also reported that their operators and drivers have benefitted from insurance benefits as result of being part of a registered cooperative.
Hernandez further enumerated other benefits such as sharing of financial capacities as a cooperative and the ensured continuity of transportation from fleet consolidation.
“I have seen firsthand how the program can affect the lives of the average Filipino when they ride public transport,” said Hernandez. “Nakita rin namin ang magandang results after undergoing modernization. Pag walang modernization or fleet consolidation, ang mga jeep ay ibebenta o itatapon lang, if halimbawa mawala ang mga operator nito. Pero, dahil may kooperatiba na at may fleet consolidation, yung jeep ko magagamit pa ng kooperatiba, at makakatulong pa magbiyahe ng mga Pilipino.”
Hernandez also cited another good effect of modernization is on the health of drivers and passengers. According to a study of the Clean Air Act, eighty percent of smoke comes from old vehicles. But because these old jeepneys were replaced, and cleaner fuel is being used, the effect on our lives are more positive.
“If the PUVMP is implemented, in the long run, it will give something the future generation can look forward to,” concludes Hernandez.
The PUV Modernization Program of the DOTr aims to ensure safe, efficient and reliable public transportation by pursuing reforms to improve old and polluting units with modern public utility vehicles with larger volume capacities, lower-emission, and high standard of roadworthiness.