THE 3,000 drivers who will be employed for the High Bus Priority System (HPBS), with priority given to existing jeepney drivers, will undergo training to get a certification from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). Assistant City Administrator Tristan Dwight P. Domingo said about 300 drivers have already signified their interest in securing the TESDA National Certification III for bus and truck driving course. “This is a good sign. Many have inquired already following the HPBS implementation, and during our consultation dialogues, most of these drivers said they are interested to apply for the NC III training,” Mr. Domingo told the media last week. He added that if there are not enough passers of the certification process, those who failed could still be employed, depending on their rating. The drivers will cover the three routes — Toril, Catalunan Grande, Diversion Road — under the project’s initial phase. The training is part of the social intervention program being offered to jeepney drivers and operators who will be affected by the new public transport system.

Meanwhile, the city government is still finalizing the terms of reference (TOR) for the HPBS, but several bus companies and jeepney cooperatives have already indicated their intent to apply for the contracts. “Although there are many inquiries already, we still can’t process anything yet as of the moment as there are still no terms of reference,” Mr. Domingo said. The city plans to limit the number of HPBS operators to five. Late last year, the national government approved the implementation of the project, which will cost about P19 billion, of which P2.8 billion will come from the city government as counterpart. — Carmelito Q. Francisco