A crackdown on colorum vehicles in Puerto Princesa City conducted during the last several days by the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) has discouraged many unregistered public utility vehicles from leaving the main terminal in Barangay San Jose on Monday, leaving hundreds of regular passengers stranded.
Joseph Carpio, manager of San Jose Land Transport Terminal, told Palawan News there are around 600 units of colorum shuttle vans that use the San Jose terminal. He said only 98 franchised and colorum vans were able to service the commuters.
Carpio said that the situation of shuttle vans in Puerto Princesa was already raised by him at Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) but no concrete action has been taken yet.
“We have already sent communication letters to the LTFRB regarding the colorum situation here in our city, and they have sent personnel here a couple times already. But unfortunately, di rin naayos yung sitwasyon dito,” Carpio said.
He also said that shuttle van operators are having difficulty complying with the new LTFRB policy that only 2018 model will be allowed to acquire a franchise.
One transport company, which operates the Dasek Shuttle vans, which regularly fields 50 van units daily on the Puerto Princesa City-Roxas route grounded 40 of their vans since most of their units have not been issued a franchise.
Wilfredo Agulto, a dispatcher of Dasek Shuttle Van, said they have already applied for a franchise from the LTFRB but these had not yet been released.
“Na-apply na namin yun pero di pa rin nila nare-release,” Agulto said.
He said most van operators were concerned they will be slapped a fine of P200,000 if they were caught.
At the San Jose terminal, passengers lined up since early Monday morning to board a few shuttle vans on a first-come-first-serve basis.
“Kanina pa kami dito, number 508 na ako, number 337 palang binabanggit” Jennifer Bolanos, a commuter traveling to Aborlan, said.
Van dispatcher Najib Babao of P. Rabbit van which serves both northern and southern Palawan routes claimed there is no available franchise that they can apply for.
“Willing naman kami magkaroon ng prangkisa. Kahit isang-daang libo yan basta meron kami. Magbayad naman kami. Sana lang may prangkisa,“ Babao said.
Buses plying the north and south route of Palawan are fully booked since the number of commuter vans was reduced. Due to the influx of commuters, bus operators said they are unable to accommodate all the passengers.
“Hindi namin inaasahan na ganito karami ang tao. Pinabyahe na namin lahat ng bus namin kagabi, ngayon hinihintay na lang namin yung mga bus na galing El Nido at Rio Tuba,” Jorel Dimpas, a dispatcher of Cherry Bus Line said.
Some buses with a maximum capacity of 66 passengers were reportedly taking 75 to 80 passengers, according to local operators.
“Walang masakyan papuntang El nido, kanina pa kami dito, mga alas sais, mag-aalas dose na hindi pa rin kami nakasakay” said Lino and Mary Ann Oliverio, who hope to catch a bus going to El Nido.