That amount is equivalent to only 14.7% of the budget for the planned Mega Manila Subway (P102 billion), which is expected to carry 370,000 passengers per day.
It’s also equivalent to just 9.8% of the budget for the planned North-South Commuter Railway (P152 billion), which is expected to transport 400,000 passengers per day.
It’s likewise less than the budget for the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (P17.5 billion), with an expected capacity of 22,000 passengers per day, and less than half the cost of a single Skyway project (for example, the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, at P37 billion), with an expected capacity of 55,000 vehicles per day.
The amount of P15 billion can buy 5,357 modernized PUJ (assuming a cost of P2.8 million each). If each modernized unit can carry 20 people, then that would come up to 107,140 passengers per trip. If a PUJ can do an average of 10 trips per day, that would mean 1.071 million passengers per day.
These are conservative estimates; it can be argued that they can carry more passengers.
If the government can take on the burden of vehicle procurement and financing costs, then it may also enable lower fares that can benefit commuters. It can also speed up the timeline for modernization, enabling our society to reap the benefits of cleaner air and better road safety more quickly.
If the government can provide a large budget to railways, roads and airports, then why can’t we provide a similar outlay to PUJ, which currently carry so much more passengers and have a wider-reaching network?
Let’s help PUJ drivers and operators. We should treat them as partners toward common goals. If the government can provide substantial financial incentives and subsidies to large companies (for example, the energy sector, to become cleaner/modern/renewable), then we should also be able to provide the same level of support to the public transport sector.
If we help them, then ultimately we help commuters and the public in general.
Jedd Ugay is a transport economist and a founding member of AltMobility PH (which advocates making transportation sustainable and inclusive) and Move as One Coalition (which was formed during the early days of the pandemic to promote the interests of commuters and public transport workers).