ILOILO CITY, Philippines – City officials in Western Visayas’ regional center scrambled to evaluate a new jeepney route system as commuters complained about delayed rides and higher transport costs on Monday, June 13.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas apologized for the chaotic rollout of the new Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) and asked for the public’s patience.
“The LTFRB, together with the LTO and the PSTMO are looking at the situation to alleviate and answer for where the actual problems are to ease the people’s problems, especially on a Monday,” the mayor said at a press briefing,.
Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) chief Jeck Conlu, citing reports from monitors at the city’s four major terminals along its boundaries, identified the “critical” points as the Mohon terminal in Arevalo and Tagbak terminal in Jaro, both districts of the city.
Teams were also assigned to the Ungka terminal and the Hibao-an terminal in Mandurriao.
All these terminals are along the border with the ‘first towns’ in Iloilo province, including Pavia, Leganes, San Miguel, and Oton.
“We are lacking jeepneys [in Mohon and Tagbak], and [as to] the circulation of passengers, [many of them] waited [for a long time],” Conlu acknowledged. He said the peak commuter hours were from 6:30 am to 9 am, and 4 pm to 7 pm.
Conlu said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-Western Visayas (LTFRB-6) provided around 230 special permits for traditional jeepneys to complement 1,677 regular city loop jeepneys.
The LTFRB-6 is also expected to provide between 50 to 100 special permits each for Mohon and Tagbak terminals.
“Our ‘rush hours’ are at 6:30 to 9 in the morning, so [between those hours] passengers in those terminals need to be catered so they can circulate in the city. Our view is that, if we still have many passengers by 9:30 to 10:30, then we already have a problem,” Conlu said.
Treñas said the city could amend or revise the LPTRP, depending on the moitors’ observations and recommendations.
Conlu said they have a six-month trial window to implement the plan and recommend changes to the Transportation and Interior departments.
“If the situation is so chaotic and it will not result in better transport plans for our commuters, I do not see any reason why we should not revise [the LPTRP],” the mayor said.
The city government enacted Iloilo City’s LPTRP in January through Regulation Ordinance No. 2022-027, which the LTFRB approved in February. It consolidates existing jeepney routes and introduces new ones.
But the LPTRP also limits the trips of jeepneys from the first towns to the boundary terminals.
The implementation was met with backlash from Ilonggo netizens, who cited the untimeliness given the rising prices of oil.
Jeepney groups here are already considering raising the minimum fare to P15.
DILG Memo Circular No. 2018-60, which provides for the guidelines in preparing the LPTRP, limits its scope to “intra-city” and “intra-municipality” routes and is silent on cross-border trips.
The Iloilo Business Club (IBC) expressed its support for the re-routing.
In a statement, the IBC said the LPTRP was a “necessary burden” for the economic progress of the city
“We are only seeing the early days of implementation with the expected difficulties in the transition, but with more time and further planning by our local authorities, we hope that the commuting experience of the public, especially of the workers and employees in the city, will significantly improve,” said the IBC
History professor Bernie Arellano called on local governments, the LTFRB-6, the Metro Iloilo-Guimaras Economic Development Council, and transport groups, to consider the potential long-term plight of workers and other provincial residents who will access public services in Iloilo City, the regional center.
In October 2021, Trenas explained he had opened up COVID-19 vaccination to residents of nearby Iloilo province towns and cities because around 100,000 non-residents work or do business in the regional center.
Arellano proposed the following:
- Ending first town commuter services at either the Festive Walk Transport Hub in Mandurriao or at Jaro Plaza, which have access to several city loop routes;
- Unloading only from provincial terminals to designated terminal hubs, with return trips to first towns allowed from the city hubs, except from peripheral terminals, unless warranted;
- First town commuter services supporting city loop operations by augmenting units with city routes, especially during rush hours; and
- Removing permit checkpoints for first town jeepneys, to lessen bureaucracy and travel time.
“Modernization and rationalization of transport routes should be placed in the greater good of its citizens,” said Arellano, who also called for gradual implementation.
On the side of commuters, he added, the process needs to be as seamless and with less transfers as possible.
“We move people, not cars. The [Iloilo] bike network is good, but to a certain extent. It has to be complimented with a mass public transport system [which supports] biking [and other forms of] active mobility,” he added. – Rappler.com