LTFRB mulls reopening of routes for provincial buses

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said on Wednesday, July 22 that necessary preparations are underway for the possible reopening of routes for provincial buses.

During a joint virtual meeting of the House Committee on Economic  Affairs and House Committee on Transportation,  LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III said they have intensified consultation with the affected stakeholders, particularly the local government units (LGUs), as some of them are not willing to open up their provincial or city boundaries.

"I'd like to highlight one mode, one type of service na hindi pa nabubuksan (which is not being opened up)   pero pinaplano na po natin (but,  we have been planning) even several weeks back and even until now and that is opening of the provincial bus routes," he told the joint House panel.

"It is quite a challenge when we open this type of public transport just like the challenge encountered by maritime and air, ganun din po rin ang challenge na hinaharap ng (the same challenge being faced by)  land based transportation, perhaps a little bit more unique and challenging," Delgra said. 

He relayed to the panel that one of the problems they encountered as they are eyeing to reopen routes for provincial buses is the refusal of some LGUs to receive people outside of their jurisdiction amid the threats of COVID-19. 

"Not all LGUs are willing to open up their borders this time until now.  Even if they do,  they would like to calibrate the number of people who would come in and would get out of their respective jurisdiction," the LTFRB chief said. 

"The challenge, which is not in air or maritime, for example,  'yung dadaanan ng mga bus (the areas where the buses will pass through) , puwede naman siguro na 'yung dadaanan na probinsya (maybe, the provinces where the buses will pass through will likely allow them), pero ang patutunguhan hindi (but, the destination area will reject them). Puwede ring hindi papayag 'yung patutunguhan, pero ang dadaanan, hindi (Probably, the destination area as well as those areas where the buses will pass through will not allow them). That is really a quite challenge," Delgra explained. 

He said they have engaged the affected stakeholders in their "continuing planning" on the resumption of operations of provincial buses in Metro Manila. 

"Hindi lang po limitado (This is not limited to the)  sa DOTr, hindi po limitado (this is not limited to) sa LTFRB,"  he said. 

"We are also in consultation with integrated terminal exchange  operators which we have met at least three times already the past  several weeks  to prepare them for the eventual opening of this provincial route," Delgra noted. 

He said they are due to meet today with some members of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) to discuss their concerns about the reopening of the provincial bus routes. 

"Ganun po ang extent ng consultation and dialogue dun sa mga apektadong stakeholders (That's the extent of our consultation and dialogue with the affected stakeholders.)

He likewise assured the lawmakers that LTFRB is  correspondingly increasing the number of public transport across all regions.