In a bid to further contain the transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country, the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) adopted the service contracting scheme for public transport proposed by the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
In Resolution No. 69 dated 7 September 2020, the IATF approved the implementation of service contracting of public utility vehicles (PUVs) to subsidize public transport operations, incentivize PUV operators to return, serve commuters, and restore the livelihood of displaced transport workers, among others.
The implementation of the measure will be spearheaded by the DOTr and its agency, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), once the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or the “Bayanihan 2” bill is signed.
The proposed stimulus bill has allocated budget to carry out a more financially-viable contracting scheme that will better benefit operators of public transportation units, the commuting public, and the overall public transport sector.
According to DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Steve Pastor, the inclusion of service contracting in the proposed bill was developed in response to the financial constraints experienced by many PUV operators and drivers due to the stringent health and sanitary protocols that must be observed in public transport.
“Due to the limitations imposed on our public transportation, operators and drivers may not be able to sustain their operations. This may lead to inconsistent travel trips causing commuters to compete for rides, while drivers and operators disregard passenger capacity in exchange for more revenue,” said Pastor.
“The concerned agencies in the transport sector are adamant that safety should not be foregone as we push for economic recovery and mobility of services. Thus, we are pushing for the use of service contracting as these would allow for efficiency of travel and the reduction of transmission,” Asec Pastor emphasized.
For his part, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chair Martin Delgra III said that the agency is in the process of finalizing the said scheme.
In the proposed service contracting scheme, government will be paying operators and drivers of public transportation units based on vehicle-kilometers travelled and specific performance indicators. This is to not only ensure fair compensation for transport workers, but to encourage better public transport services for the benefit of commuters.
“The new arrangement of service contracts among public transportation will no longer just depend on the number of passengers being carried. We are ensuring that our drivers will be fully compensated for their services, despite the imposed load limitations,” said Delgra.
Under the proposal, contracted drivers and operators are to render their services based on provisions provided by the LTFRB.
On the basis of safety, traditional and modern public utility jeepneys (PUJs) and public utility buses (PUBs) are still required to follow the 50% passenger capacity and other safety and health protocols. They will also have to operate within a set of working hours and must be able to provide available back-up units should there be cases of vehicle breakdowns.
In addition, a set of qualifications based on road safety has also been prescribed. Contractors and drivers must possess a professional driver’s license and must be driving a service unit confirmed by an operator. Public utility vehicles (PUVs) must also pass roadworthiness standards of the Land Transportation Office-Philippines (LTO) and must not have been involved in any road crash incident in the last two years.
Further, the LTFRB will base payments on the total vehicle-kilometer contracted by the driver and operator, as well as their conformance to adhere to safety standards.
“To ensure fairness as well, we will be employing a third-party monitoring entity to evaluate the total vehicle-kilometers operated, the reliability of their services, driver and vehicle quality and customer satisfaction,” said Chairman Delgra.
Performance indicators that will serve as additional basis for payment and the preferred mode of payment on these vehicles are being finalized.
14 September 2020