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Commuter group urges incoming LTFRB to clarify rules on carpooling, shuttle services

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Commuter group urges incoming LTFRB to clarify rules on carpooling, shuttle services
Commuters choose to walk home after having a hard time catching a bus from EDSA Ortigas station on April 13, 2022.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — A commuter network urged the incoming leadership Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board to promote carpooling and shuttle services of companies affected by the current transport crisis in the country by clarifying its guidelines on them.

Colorum is the term used by the department when referring to vehicles carrying passengers without a Certificate of Public Convenience, Provisional Authority, or Special Permit from the LTFRB, or traveling on roads not covered by their documents.

In a statement sent to reporters, The Passenger Forum urged the LTFRB to allow carpools and private shuttle services, which fall under the colorum label, amid the commuter crisis. Other colorum vehicles include volunteer riders and habal-habal riders. 

“It is obvious that there is a supply problem in our public transport. We hope LTFRB Chairperson-designate Cheloy Garafil will consider explicitly allowing carpooling and company shuttles, and streamlining the processes of how such initiatives can get the necessary permits from their office,” TPF Convenor Primo Morillo said.

"Our citizens’ resourceful responses to the transport crisis should not be considered as colorum operations."

Intensified operations against colorum have been going on since the start of a coronavirus pandemic that has severely limited public transportation. The campaign stems from Memorandum Circular 2019-003 issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board which reads:

  • Private vehicles must be covered by a long-term lease contract of not less than three (3) years between the lessee and the car rental company/owner 
  • The vehicle must be exclusively used and driven by the lessee or his/her authorized representative  

Clamping down on COVID-19 transmission is certainly a valid concern in the government's anti-colorum campaign. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has accused colorum vehicles of "coronavirus smuggling," though no evidence yet exists that carpools are linked to spikes in cases. Private SUVs carpooling workers amid the coronavirus pandemic found themselves apprehended by cops and road authorities amid the government crackdown on colorum vehicles

This, as commuters once again have to face long lines and cramped rides with the return of on-site work and face-to-face classes. 

The Passenger Forum said in its statement that due to the rising price of petroleum products, many car owners will be encouraged to use their vehicles for carpooling “if only there are clear guidelines on how to do it without being apprehended as a colorum.”

“The situation of some companies is similar. They want to help their employees but they should not go through the tedious process of getting a permit which is similar to applying for a transport franchise. Their productivity is already affected and solving this issue will also help our economy in the long run,” Morillo added.

Colorum vehicles filling gaps in public transpo

Although technically illegal, colorum vehicles fill gaps left by licensed public transportation, with some plying unserved routes. 

TPF also called for a stoppage to the anti-colorum campaign in April of last year to accommodate the initiatives to decrease the demand for our stressed public transport system.

“We need to start considering these initiatives as helping hands while we are currently in an apparent public transport emergency. Especially now that those who are plying routes without franchises have also stopped operating, the ones that will be apprehended are vehicles being used for carpooling or company-owned or rented vans that fetch their employees. These people are just trying to work and ensure that economic activities continue.

These initiatives should not be considered as problems and are, in fact, part of the solution,” Morillo added.

Morillo also suggested that the government should also start looking at the phenomenon of colorum vehicles as a way to understand the country’s land transportation problems.

“The reason why colorum PUVs thrived before is because there are insufficient legitimate PUVs on the road, there are many underserviced areas, and we do not have an extensive train system. Many of them only stopped now because they are losing money,” he said. 

"We can have an amnesty program for these colorums and programmatically make them legitimate. We can assign them in new routes which are really needed right now if we want to avoid undue competition against existing franchises. We can monitor their compliance by connecting their franchise to integrated terminal exchanges where they will be interconnected to many routes. With the problems we have right now, it will be very hard to solve them without changing how we look at things."

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

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