WITH the expected surge in passenger demand in the opening of face-to-face (F2F) classes this year, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is carefully calibrating its existing land transport programs to effectively and efficiently serve the increasing number of commuters.
Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista directed Road Transport and Infrastructure Undersecretary Mark Steven C. Pastor, Railway Undersecretary Cesar Chavez, and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairperson Cheloy Garafil to ensure continuous implementation of the Service Contracting Program (SCP), Libreng Sakay Program, and to fast-track the rationalization of public transport routes.
Bautista also directed the immediate release of P1,000 fuel subsidy to the target 617,806 qualified tricycle driver-beneficiaries as listed by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), full deployment of all 550 buses in the EDSA Busway especially during rush hours, and availability of equity subsidy as down payment for the acquisition of modern public utility vehicles (PUVs) under the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).
The Transport Secretary is scheduling a meeting with the bus consortium operating the EDSA Carousel route and other concerned government agencies to ensure sufficient deployment of buses to accommodate increased passenger demand due to the F2F classes.
“We will coordinate our actions with concerned agencies such as the DepEd, CHED, MMDA, LTO, LTFRB, PNP, AFP-NCR, DILG, IACT and others not under the DOTr,” said Bautista.
The Secretary added that according to various studies conducted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a low probability of virus transmission in public transport, so long as strict implementation of health and safety measures are in place and are being followed by the drivers, operators, and commuters. This dispels public apprehension of possible increase in COVID-19 incidence when F2F classes begin.
“We are also looking at accelerating the grant of franchise instead of just permits for buses on critical routes used by students such as Katipunan, Commonwealth, Recto Avenue,” added Bautista.