By Alexandria San Juan
More than a thousand commuters stranded along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City were ferried by ride-hailing drivers for free on June 8, Monday morning, a week after Metro Manila transitioned into a more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ).
Laban Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) President Jun De Leon said 70 drivers from transport network company OWTO were able to ferry 1,050 passengers from Commonwealth Avenue to MRT North Avenue Station.
“First of all, this is our service to the riding public affected by the lack of public utility vehicles plying the road,” De Leon added.
According to De Leon, the drivers who joined the free ride initiative are those who were not included in the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) list of allowed units to ply in the metropolis again.
The free ride program during the Monday rush hour from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. was launched by ride-sharing firm OWTO and Laban TNVS, in coordination with the Quezon City “Task Force Disiplina” led by Action Officer Rannie Ludovica.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has been criticized for its “lack of plans” for the resumption of public transportation under a GCQ, after many commuters in parts of Metro Manila were stranded last week, with some forced to walk to their workplaces as mass transportation remained crippled.
The DOTr has since opened additional city bus routes to service more essential commuters. This includes portions of the EDSA Carousel route to augment the limited passenger capacity of the MRT-3, Route 1 from Monumento to Balagtas, Route 5 from Quezon Avenue to Angat in Bulacan, Route 7 from Quezon Avenue to Montalban, Route 9 from Cubao-Antipolo to augment the LRT Line 2, Route 17 from Monumento to EDSA Taft for LRT Line 1 passengers, Route 18 or the Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX)-NAIA Loop route, and Route 28 from PITX to Dasmariñas, Cavite.
Another four routes were launched beginning Monday: Route 3 from Monumento to the Valenzuela Gateway Complex, Route 11 from Gilmore to Taytay in Rizal, Route 13 from Buendia to BGC, and Route 21 from Monumento to San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.
The DOTr assured the riding public that it has been conducting daily assessments on the transportation situation since the shift to the GCQ to identify vital routes to be opened to service more passengers.