BACOLOD CITY: Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez is asking the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to stop arresting public utility jeepneys (PUJs) in Bacolod City and instead, give them special permits or provisional authorities to operate until their concerns are addressed.

Benitez said he will raise the issues and concerns of 3,887 PUJ operators and drivers with Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista.

Diego Malacad, Negros Bacolod Transport Coalition secretary general, said drivers and operators representatives met with LTFRB Regional Director Richard Osmeña in the presence of Benitez on Friday. Malacad said 99 percent of the PUJs in Bacolod are unregistered.

"The LTFRB 6 will not register us because they want us to become members of their recognized cooperatives for the jeepney modernization program," Malacad added.

He said "the choice of allowing them to register with the cooperative of their choice under the principle of free enterprise" was suddenly not available to them.

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The 3,887 PUJs plying the streets of Bacolod will only have until March 31, 2023, to operate and shift to the use of modern jeepneys, Malacad pointed out.

If the 3,887 are phased out, these will be replaced by 1,096 modern jeepneys, he said adding that "there are not enough modern jeepneys in Bacolod yet to serve the needs of the riding public."

The transport group is also requesting the Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Transportation to conduct a dialog to tackle the alarming and controversial status of the transport industry in the city.