Metro Manila, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday said it gave a commitment to its stakeholders to study rehabilitating traditional jeepneys instead of requiring them to buy new units as part of the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

Speaking to CNN Philippines’ The Source, DOTr Undersecretary Timothy John Batan said this was one of the concerns raised by Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) during the group’s dialogue with government officials on Thursday amid its two-day strike.

“There were additional things that need to be further studied such as for example whether traditional jeepneys can be rehabilitated for purposes of complying with the standard step under the PUV modernization program and we of course gave our assurance that those additional concerns… will be further studied,” DOTr Undersecretary Timothy John Batan said

Another issue raised by the group was the number of operators per route. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) clarified 2-3 cooperatives may be allowed per route depending on the volume of passengers, Batan said.

Authorities also clarified that the minimum number of units to consolidate has been brought down to 10 from 15, he said. The official said the LTFRB has also waived accrued penalties due to non-compliance to certain requirements.

Despite the dialogue on Thursday, PISTON still pushed through with its last day of strike to protest the Dec. 31 deadline for consolidation.

Batan reiterated that what drivers and operators have to do is consolidate by the end of the year to ensure they will still be able to ply roads next year. The deadline does not mean traditional jeepneys will no longer be allowed on the roads, he noted.

“What you have to do by December 31 is consolidate. That means it’s either you join a cooperative or you form your cooperative… That’s all that needs to be done by December 31. Come January 1, it’s actually likely that we will still see traditional jeepneys running on our roads, but those traditional jeepneys will be under consolidated operators,” he explained.

If they fail to comply with this, their franchise will no longer be extended. If they choose to operate without a franchise, they will be considered colorum vehicles, Batan said.

The DOTr official also said that traditional jeepneys will still be allowed to operate after the deadline as long as they have filed for consolidation and they are roadworthy.

After consolidating, operators have 2-3 years to modernize their fleet, Batan said.