Montealto: LTFRB 7 may deploy more public buses if need arises

LAND Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. said his office can deploy more public utility buses as a solution to the alleged lack of public transportation in some areas in the region placed under general community quarantine.

Earlier, Liloan, Cebu Mayor Ma. Esperanza Christina Frasco had decried the decision of the LTFRB 7 denying her appeal to issue special permits to other public utility vehicles (PUVs) aside from buses.

Montealto said on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, that the current number of buses and modern jeepneys issued with special permits is still sufficient, considering the absence of the commuting students and the existing travel restrictions affecting some workers.

A total of 190 buses and modern jeeps are transporting passengers in Metro Cebu amid the general community quarantine status. Of the number, 72 are modern jeeps. The LTFRB 7 also allowed 2,848 taxi and 107 transportation network vehicle service (TNVS) units to operate.

The LTFRB 7 had granted 775 special permits to buses across Central Visayas. Of the number, 380 are from Cebu Province.

Survey

Before deploying more buses, the LTFRB 7 has to conduct a survey to determine the number of buses in an area.

As an implementing agency, the LTFRB 7 is only following its office-issued Memorandum Circular 2020-017, which specifies the public transportation modes to be implemented in areas with different community quarantine statuses, Montealto said.

No public transportation is allowed under enhanced community quarantine and modified enhanced community quarantine.

Public transportation, except jeepneys, is allowed under the general community quarantine but not in full capacity to observe strict physical distancing.

Montealto said local government units can always elevate their concerns or requests to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Frasco’s statement

In a statement posted on her official Facebook page on June 9, Frasco said she was saddened by the LTFRB 7’s decision as additional PUVs are needed to serve her constituents who need to go back to work.

She also questioned why the LTFRB 7 would not issue special permits to other PUVs when the agency’s Memorandum Circular 2020-017 does not prohibit other PUVs to operate.

She said the 55 buses issued with special permits by the LTFRB 7 are not enough to accommodate the 2,000 workers living in Liloan who have to resume work during the general community quarantine.

Montealto understood Frasco, saying the mayor was just looking after the welfare of her constituents. But he said the LTFRB 7’s primordial concern is public health and safety over public comfort.

The LTFRB memorandum circular states that authorized public utility buses are the preferred units in routes under general community quarantine. It further mandates that in areas where public utility buses could not operate, the following hierarchy of transport service shall be observed: a. tourist bus; b. Omnibus Franchising Guidelines-compliant (modernized) public utility jeepneys (PUJs); c. UV Express service; d. traditional PUJs consolidated as cooperatives or fleet managed; and e. tourist vans.

Even though not included in the hierarchy, taxi and TNVS are now allowed to operate in Metro Cebu. The memorandum circular states that the LTFRB or the Regional Franchising and Regulatory Offices may allow taxi and TNVS units to operate on a “case to case basis.” If allowed, only a maximum of two passengers are allowed to sit at the back and the fare must be paid using electronic payment apps. (WBS, HBL)