WHILE they are still working on documentation and getting the contracts ready for the second scheme of the free ride service contracting program, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 will realign the schedule of trips of the first 10 public utility buses (PUBs) it deployed for the second scheme of the program in Cebu.
LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. said to maximize the service of the first batch of buses deployed to service healthcare workers in Cebu, they will temporarily alter the initial
schedules they assigned to the first 10 buses.
Montealto said these 10 Ceres buses, operated by Vallacar Transit Inc., have been operating under the program since April 16, 2021, even though they have yet to sign a formal contract for the program with the LTFRB 7.
Three of these buses were deployed to these routes: Naga City to Chong Hua Hospital in Mandaue City via South Road Properties (SRP), and SM Seaside Mambaling to N. Bacalso to Imus.
Three other buses will service the route Talamban Road to Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC). The four remaining buses will ply the route Danao Provincial Hospital to University of Cebu Medical Center (UCMed).
Because of ridership issues, Montealto said two of the three buses each allocated for the routes Naga City to Chong Hua Hospital in Mandaue City via South Road Properties (SRP), SM Seaside Mambaling to N. Bacalso to Imus and Talamban Road to VSMMC, will be realigned or will be servicing the route Danao Provincial Hospital to UCMed at some time of the day.
“So, at times when the bus is idle, it will ply the other route. There are more passengers in the route for four buses (Danao Provincial Hospital to UCMed) but only every 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.,” he said.
“After that, the bus will revert to its original route as there will be more passengers for farther destinations, especially after 5 p.m.,” he added.
These 10 buses, he said, operate from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.
He said they have also coordinated with the Department of Health (DOH) 7 to help disseminate the information about the free ride program to the healthcare workers.
He added they are also coordinating with the various hospitals to reconcile the schedule of the time-in and out of their other healthcare workers such as their security guards and utility personnel who, unlike, the nurses and doctors, don’t have a fixed schedule.
Though the second scheme of the free ride service program prioritizes the healthcare workers, it will also cater to all authorized persons outside of residence (Apor).
However, since they could not yet hire additional buses and modern public utility jeepneys pending the contract signing—the process of which, Montealto said, would take two weeks—they have allowed only healthcare workers to avail of the free ride service using the 10 Ceres buses at the moment.
He said the earliest possible time for additional units for the program to be deployed will be next week or the first week of May.
They are also working on updating their system and the deployment of additional LTFRB 7 personnel who will monitor the progress of the project.
Only healthcare workers can ride for free while the rest of the passengers have to pay under the first scheme of the free ride service which started in January 2021, while only the
drivers are given an P11 incentive per kilometer they cover.
Under the second scheme, bus operators will be paid P82 per kilometer that they cover under the service. A total of 30 percent of that incentive will go to the driver while the 70 percent will go to the operator.
Montealto said of the 872 units of public utility buses and MPUJs issued special permits in Cebu, only about 100 units will be allowed to join the program so as not to cause unfair competition with other regular drivers. (WBS)