Twelve modified provincial bus routes covering 286 units going to Metro Manila from nearby provinces will be opened to serve passengers beginning September 30, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced on Saturday.
LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III said the routes to be opened are for provincial buses emerging from Regions 3 and 4A following a series of consultations with local officials, as well as terminals and bus operators, as the economy gradually reopens under a more relaxed community quarantine.
Under Memorandum Circular 2020-051 released by the LTFRB on Saturday, Sept. 26, the following modified routes will be opened for provincial buses at the end of the month:
1. San Fernando, Pampanga - Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City
2. Batangas City, Batangas - Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX)
3. Lemery, Batangas - PITX
4. Lipa City, Batangas - PITX
5. Nasugbu, Batangas - PITX
6. Indang, Cavite - PITX
7. Mendez, Cavite - PITX
8. Tagaytay City, Cavite - PITX
9. Ternate, Cavite - PITX
10. Calamba City, Laguna - PITX
11. Siniloan, Laguna - PITX
12. Sta. Cruz, Laguna - PITX
According to Delgra, pick-up or drop-off of passengers in between the approved routes will not be allowed except on the designated stop-over points or terminals as discussed by the LTFRB and local government units (LGUs).
Online ticket purchase
Based on the circular, purchasing a ticket at the terminal on the day of the trip will be prohibited unless it is an emergency. The LTFRB advised passengers to obtain tickets two days before traveling or even earlier through online or at the bus terminal.
Bring travel papers
Meanwhile, the LTFRB also reminded the public to bring several requirements for travel, such as a travel pass issued by the PNP from their origin, a valid identification card, and other documents to be required by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the LGU concerned.
Passengers are also required to bring a written consent that they agree to undergo COVID-19 testing or quarantine at the terminal or end-point destination in case the LGU requires.
The regulatory body added that a no eating, no talking, and no answering of calls policy will be implemented inside the vehicle to further reduce the droplets expelled to curb the transmission of the virus
Requirements for drivers, operators
The memorandum also stated that authorized public utility buses (PUBs) will be allowed to travel these routes even without a special permit given that they have a valid and existing franchise and have a registered Personal Passenger Insurance Policy.
However, in place of the special permit, the LTFRB said it will issue a QR code to drivers and operators which is required to be printed and displayed in the corresponding unit.
The QR code is a special barcode that can be download from the LTFRB website that will prove that their vehicles were among the units permitted to service the routes approved to enter the metropolis.
Also, the LTFRB has required operators to install a Global Navigation Satellite System to monitor the travel of their units.
Drivers and operators, as well as passengers, were also reminded to strictly observe safety protocols such as monitoring of body temperature, mandatory wearing face masks and face shields, and compliance in one-meter physical distancing.
The LTFRB said that provincial buses traveling on the modified routes will be monitored regularly and warned that failure to comply with the guidelines will incur penalties such as imposition of fines or cancellation or suspension of the Certificate of Public Convenience or Provisional Authority of the unit.
The LTFRB chairman earlier said that discussions are still ongoing between the agency and local officials as many were still opposed to the idea of opening their borders for buses to and from Manila which is currently the epicenter of the pandemic in the country.
All modes of public transport have been allowed to gradually resume at a limited capacity in areas when Metro Manila was placed under general community quarantine in June.