JEEPNEY drivers and operators unable to fully modernize by June will get one-year probationary permits, according to the Transportation department.

“Those who will not be able to comply with the public utility vehicle modernization program by June 2020 will still be granted probationary authority to operate for one year,” Transportation Assistant Secretary Mark Steven C. Pastor said in an emailed statement on Friday.

The jeepneys, however, must be certified by the Land Transportation Office to be roadworthy, and their transport groups must file for consolidation of franchise, he added.

The Transportation department said it had accredited 1,131 transport cooperatives with 110,909 drivers and operators for the modernization program.

“We are urging all transport groups to follow these cooperatives who are ready to adhere to the requirements of modernizing their franchise,” Mr. Pastor said.

“The number of transport cooperatives is increasing, which shows that many drivers and operators support the government’s call for a safer and better transportation system for our commuters,” he added.

The agency said it would be easier to fully implement the program once cooperatives have been consolidated.

Instead of drivers and operators purchasing new units themselves, cooperatives may obtain loans from banks that offer financial assistance to comply with the program, it said.

The government launched the modernization program in June 2017, requiring operators to decommission units of a certain age, for replacement with new units.

Jeepneys that are at least 15 years old must be phased out within three years from the launch of the modernization program, or by June 2020.

“Drivers will benefit from putting up cooperatives as they will now become operators as well,” Mr. Pastor said.

Apart from monthly salaries, pension and health benefits, they will also earn from the profit of the cooperative, he pointed out.

“We strongly urge our drivers and operators to register now as a cooperative,” he said. — Arjay L. Balinbin