March 8, 2023

On the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program

In our work for climate action that’s based on science and justice, we understand that freedom of movement is a right that is endowed to everyone and therefore its protection is a common good that should be ensured by the government.

Making streets more safe to different modes of transport is therefore crucial to ensuring that this right is respected and enjoyed by everyone.

A study shows that 88% of Filipino households in Metro Manila and the Greater Manila Area do not own cars. Public transportation are the arteries of cities and, as such, they play a critical role in ensuring that the needs of those who do not own private vehicles are met.

With the current transportation crisis, we affirm the need to modernize our public transport system as we strive to be more efficient and contribute towards the reduction of our carbon footprint from transportation.

But more importantly, we believe that it should not come at the expense of displacing public utility jeepney drivers. The jeepney phaseout reportedly will cost the livelihood of around 500, 000 drivers, 300, 000 small operators, and will affect 2 million families that depend their livelihood on these jeepneys.

With this, we stand in solidarity with the jeepney drivers’ strike against their enforced phase out.

The goal of a modernized transport system should not be limited by merely changing the type, engine and fuel of our public utility vehicles. It is also about improving urban mobility conditions with safer, better, cleaner, cost-effective transport options to lessen dependence on imported fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions.

A just transition means transforming social systems in the transport sector to meet a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy that maximizes the benefits of climate action while at the same minimizing hardships for transportation workers and their families in the present and the future.

This transition should be guided by equity that recognizes and ensures the rights and well-being of transport workers and commuters.