LTFRB 7 eyes resumption of free ride service program on Sept. 16

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HEALTHCARE workers and authorized persons outside of residence (APOR) in Cebu, Bohol and Dumaguete can expect free public transportation by September this year as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 is set to re-launch or resume its free ride service program.

The program is expected to resume on September 16, 2021 until December 31, 2021.

LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr., in an interview with SunStar Cebu, on Friday, August 27, 2021, said that the LTFRB 7's budget for the free ride service program this time will be sourced from the fund allocation of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) under the General Appropriations Act for the fiscal year 2021.

"Nagkuan na mi og mga preparations kung kinsa to ang mga possible participants then mga rota naa na siya, dayon karong semanaha mao nay among gi-trabaho. Nag procure na mi sa mga personnel. Naa may mga personnel nga gi-ilisan. Nag exam mi atong isa ka adlaw then nag interview," he said.

(For this week, we are still working on the needed preparations, such as procurement of personnel, possible participant operators, and the routes. Some personnel has been replaced. We also conducted an exam and interview the other day.)

CV allocation

He said that nationwide, the budget for the continuation of the free ride service is at P3 billion. Central Visayas has been allocated around P358 million.

He said that even before the validity of the Bayanihan 2 Law or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, the law that provided funds for the first free ride service program, expired on June 30, the LTFRB and DOTr have already requested funds for the resumption of the free ride.

"Nakita man to na maayo ang resulta sa free ride sa una nga mga two months ra gani to or one and a half ang uban. Makatabang g’yod sa atong healthcare workers and APORs kay karon lisod man g’yod kaayo kay gibalik tag MECQ, kato gani MGCQ ta ato. Pending pa man ang proposed Bayanihan 3 Law so nangayo ta sa GAA nga budget," Montealto said.

(We saw that it was a huge help for our healthcare workers and other essential workers, especially now that we are back to being under the MECQ. Since the Bayanihan 3 Law has yet to be approved, which we expect can give funding to the continuation of the free ride service program, we have requested allocation from the GAA 2021.)

MGCQ and MECQ stand for modified general community quarantine and modified enhanced community quarantine, respectively.

When asked about the number of public utility vehicle (PUV) units expected to be deployed this time, he said it could be almost the same as the number of deployed units during the first round of the free ride, although there is a possibility that it will also be lessened to make sure that the allocated budget would be enough for the program to last for three months.

He said the two-month operation of the first round of free ride service already cost more than P300 million. The first round of the free ride service program of LTFRB 7 for healthcare workers and APORs in the region was implemented on April 16, 2021 and ended on June 30.

Operators, routes

For now, the LTFRB 7 is expecting at least 150 mixed units of PUVs to be deployed under the free ride service program this time.

Montealto said the participating tourist vans and buses will accommodate the healthcare workers while the public utility buses and modern public utility jeepneys (MPUJs) will service the APORs.

He said a total of 28 operators have already signified to participate in the free ride service program. At least 84 MPUJ units have been dedicated to the program, while Vallacar Transit Inc. has dedicated 10 Ceres buses for the program.

"Muagi sa 28 ka hospitals in Cebu. Inana pod halos kadaghan ang rota. Consolacion to Chong Hua then Consolacion to Sotto. Kanang mga major thoroughfares and daghang pasahero naa g'yod na siya," he said.

(These will pass through the 28 hospitals in Cebu. For instance the Consolacion to Chong Hua and then Consolacion to Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center routes. All the major thoroughfares frequented by the commuters, we will be deploying units there.)

He said the deployed units will be scheduled so as they can operate 24 hours to cater to workers in graveyard shifts.

He said they have yet to finalize both the payment schedule and scheme as the contract for the program is still being prepared.

"Initially, ang plano, sauna tripartite man to with LTFRB, operators ug drivers. Karon, duha nalang operators and LFTRB kung madayon which is mas maayo sad kay mao poy among mga recommendation kay sauna man gud kung ang driver dili mubyahe karon apil ang unit di na makabyahe. Karon, bisan kinsang driver ilang makuha," he said.

(Initially, the plan is to change, unlike before when it was a tripartite agreement. Now we suggested just having it between the LTFRB and the operators so that when the driver is not available they can hire another to drive the unit.) (WBS)

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