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LTFRB offers free rides for APORs, essential workers

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
LTFRB offers free rides for APORs, essential workers
Police officers screen motorists and commuters passing the border of Bulacan and Caloocan in San Jose Del Monte on the first day of Implementation of a renewed lockdown or enhanced community quarantine on Monday, March 29, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The transportation department has rolled out free rides on public utility vehicles on 44 routes for authorized persons outside residences or essential workers, it disclosed Tuesday. 

Much like 2020's enhanced community quarantine, many were left stranded and unable to find rides in public transportation hubs on the first day of the implementation of the ECQ. Major thoroughfares were left congested amid the slow-moving checkpoints. 

In a statement, the Department of Transportation disclosed that the free rides were offered by drivers registered under its service contracting program. Commuters only have to show valid identification proving they are APORs. 

Data from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board show that 36,438 drivers have so far registered for the government's service contracting scheme, where drivers will be subsidized to ply their routes and service the public. The department's target is 60,000 drivers. 

According to the LTFRB, the 44 routes offering free rides will begin starting 4 a.m. until 10 p.m.

The routes are: 

  1. Novaliches - Malinta via Paso de Blas
  2. Bagumbayan Taguig - Pasig via San Joaquin
  3. Fort Bonifacio Gate 3 - Guadalupe, Market Market (ABC)
  4. Pandacan - L. Guinto
  5. Quezon Avenue - LRT 5th Avenue Station
  6. Cubao (Diamond) - Roces Super Palengke
  7. EDSA Buendia - Mandaluyong City Hall via Jupiter
  8. Divisoria - Gasak via H. Lopez
  9. Punta - Quiapo via Sta Mesa
  10. Boni Pinatubo - Stop & Shop
  11. Boni (Robinson's Complex) - Kalentong/JRC
  12. Nichols - Vito Cruz
  13. Filinvest City Loop
  14. Alabang Town Center (ATC) - Ayala Alabang Village
  15. Vito Cruz Taft Avenue - PITX Loop
  16. Bagong Silang - SM Fairview
  17. Malanday - Divisoria via M. H. Del Pilar
  18. Eastwood, Libis - Capitol Commons
  19. Gasak - Recto via Dagat-dagatan
  20. PITX - Lawton
  21. Alabang - Zapote
  22. PITX - Nichols
  23. PITX - SM Southmall
  24. QMC Loop
  25. Cubao - Sta Lucia (Pasig)
  26. Rosario Junction - San Juan via Pinaglabanan, Ortigas
  27. Rodriguez - BFCT
  28. Blumentritt, Manila - Sta Quiteria, Caloocan
  29. Guadalupe, Makati - FTI, Taguig via JP Rizal Ext.
  30. Alabang, Muntinlupa - Buencamino, Muntinlupa
  31. Alabang, Muntinlupa - Tunasan
  32. Litex, Quezon City - Rodriguez, Rizal
  33. Palmera, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan - Novaliches, Quezon City
  34. Parang-Cubao (Cubao - Silangan, San Mateo, Rizal)
  35. Munoz - Quiapo
  36. Alabang - Calamba via SLEX
  37. Balingasa, Balintawak - Muzon, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan
  38. Diego Cera Avenue, Las Pinas - Merville
  39. Rodriguez (Sub-Urban) - SM North EDSA
  40. Muzon Central Terminal, SJDM - Novaliches, Quirino Hwy
  41. Baclaran - NAIA/Baltao
  42. SSS Village - Cubao via Aurora
  43. Malanday - Sta Cruz. via Huertas Oroqueta
  44. Malanday - Pier South via McArthur Highway

'Free rides may affect transport supply' 

In an open letter to the transportation department though, transport economist Robert Siy of the Move as One transport coalition called on the government to be wary about offering free public transport if if doing so will only later on result in reduced public transport supply.

"There may be routes where operators agree to offer free rides on the promise of a service contract from DOTr.  However, they may decide to reduce the number of units in operation because they are unable to cover the operational costs of free rides if DOTr’s payments for the service contracts are delayed by several weeks," he said. 

"Many more operators will gain confidence in service contracting if they have the assurance of being paid promptly, say, within one week."

Police enforcers manning the quarantine control points in and around the so-called NCR+ bubble confirmed observations that public utility vehicles were largely not present to service commuters.

In an assessment of the first day of the enhanced community quarantine, the Philippine National Police observed that 57% of vehicles plying the streets were of private motorists, versus just 39% of PUVs for commuters — a figure that does not bode well for the 88% of households in Metro Manila that do not own private vehicles. 

Siy added that service contracting as it stands should also be extended to traditional PUJs, while the program should target high-volume routes to service more of the commuting public. 

"At the moment, the free ride program supported by service contracting is only applicable to buses and modern PUJs. This covers only a fraction of the routes in NCR. Traditional PUJs should be included in this program to ensure broader coverage," he said. 

"To achieve faster and more significant results, the service contracting program should [also] target high-volume routes so that a larger number of commuters can benefit from a more stable and predictable supply of public transport."

COMMUNITY QUARANTINE

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

DOTR

LAND TRANSPORTATION FRANCHISING AND REGULATORY BOARD

LTFRB

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