AGHAM’s Position paper on DoTr’s PUV Modernization Program
- AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People believes that efficient and affordable, safe, reliable, efficient, clean transport services is a public utility which the government has the obligation to provide. Serving multiple linkages, a mass transportation system is crucial in setting up a dynamic and industrial economy.
- The PUV Modernization Program and Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG) is not the genuine modernization that can address the transportation problems of the country rooted in the lack of a public mass transport system.
- The issue of the jeepneys is not detached from that of the whole mass transportation system. Due to the inadequacy of current mass transport, jeepneys and other forms of informal public transport have become the main provider of transportation services for most of our riding public especially the low income working class. The conflicting roadmaps and policies on developing mass transport, coupled with privatization schemes of the existing systems (e.g. MRT/LRT) have resulted to the situation that we are in.
- Without a clear plan for a mass transport solution for urban centers and rural areas, the government should instead support and subsidize the informal public transport alternatives like the jeepneys which has taken up the slack. The government should not burden the small drivers and operators with expensive alternatives and financing schemes and should instead replace their vehicles with minimal or no-cost to them.
- Such a “palit-jeep” program will directly benefit drivers and small operators, and the commuting public as a whole. It will also make the rehabilitation and uptake of new technologies faster instead of putting the burden to the already impoverished jeepney drivers. Evaluation for road worthiness should be done at a per-unit basis instead of a fixed standard as “older than 15 years” which now stands.
- Capital expenditures such as construction of terminals should be shouldered by the government, at the same time, it should make available maintenance and repair shops to upgrade current vehicles while new replacements are brought in.
- This palit-jeep program should be implemented in the context of an industrial policy that will truly develop a PUV manufacturing based on requirements such as genuine local content and not merely localized content (of auto TNCs located in the country and/or imported vehicle parts including but not limited to motor and chassis). Instead of favoring foreign-owned companies with factories inside the country, government should subsidize local car manufacturing companies. This should be complemented by a program of technology transfer to ensure that a genuine domestic PUV manufacturing sector, not only of body parts but primarily of the main components, is being developed.
- The government should invest in formal mass transport such as rails. Studies have shown that government investment in formal transit modes benefits commuters such as in the case of Brazil where commuters roughly benefited 100 to 200 dollars per commute per year (Golub et al., 2009).
- The government should pursue a comprehensive program for mass transport system that will serve the needs of national industrialization and rural development, facilitate regional dispersal, and is affordable to low-income working people. This program shall be oriented towards State ownership of major transport utilities and operation of comprehensive nationwide system of land and sea transport complementing railway transport system. The government should ensure people’s participation in planning and management of the transport system, traffic governance, and in defining transport fares.
 Golub et al. (2009). Regulation of the informal transport sector in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: welfare impacts and policy analysis. Transportation 36:601-616.