BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Hundreds of commuters were reported stranded in Bacolod City, as the Land Transportation Office started to operate against public utility vehicles with either expired, or operate without franchises.
Personnel of the Land Transportation Office and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, assisted by the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (BTAO), established checkpoints in key and strategic areas of Bacolod City, to check for compliance of Department of Transportation Order 2017-011, that aims to phase out PUVs that are 15 years old and above, to be replaced by efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.
Yesterday’s stoppage of trips, affecting almost 80 percent of the Bacolod City’s PUVs, confused commuters and left many stranded on the streets.
As per advise by officials of various transport groups, PUV operators did not operate for fear of being apprehended. However, PUVs with complete documents continue to operate.
City government information officer Carmela Arcolas-Gamboa said that the Bacolod City Government dispatched some of its vehicles to ferry stranded passengers, and barangays Taculing, Estefania, 8 and Mansilingan also offered Libre Sakay.
Some schools in Bacolod City also suspended classes due to the limited number of PUVs plying different routes in the city.
Renato Novero, LTO-Bacolod chief, strongly debunked claims that they are singling out the traditional PUVs, stressing that they are fair to everybody.
Novero cited the apprehension of conductors of modern PUVs without licenses, along with other colorum vehicles.
This is not just a ‘one- time’ operation but a regular operation of the agency across the country, he pointed out.
According to the LTO-Western Visayas, only 1,033 PUVs should be allowed to ply the streets of Bacolod, but the number of those operating actually reached up to 3,000 at one point.
Gamboa said there will be a dialog scheduled between the transport groups and city government, to be attended by local LTO officials at 9 a.m. today at Bacolod City Government Center lobby.*