Bus operators request for gov't subsidy

As provincial buses are set to return on the road on Wednesday, bus operators asked for assistance to maintain operations even in a limited capacity as part of the government's health protocol to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the transportation sector.

"Humihirit kami ng subsidy para sa operations, kung sakali man na walang pagtaas ng pamasahe para hindi na rin mahirapan ang mga pasahero (We are asking a subsidy for our operations, just in case there will be no fare increase so passengers will not be burdened)," Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines (PBOAP) Executive Director Alex Yague said in an interview.

Yague said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) could grant operators of at least a discount in fuel or toll fees as provincial buses going to and from the capital region would resume their operations beginning September 30.

"Ang mga ruta na binuksan karamihan dito at sa expressway ang daan kaya may toll fee. Bukod sa gastos sa krudo at sweldo sa mga tao, malaki ang portion ng toll fee sa cost of operation," he explained.

(Most of the routes opened will pass through expressways with toll fees. Aside from the cost of fuel and salaries for our employees, a large portion of the cost of operation is toll fees.)

According to Yague, the costs of maintaining the units, which should be regularly disinfected after every trip was already expensive, in addition to rental fees for the terminal.

The LTFRB earlier issued Memorandum Circular 2020-051 which reopened 12 modified provincial bus routes between Metro Manila and Regions 3 and 4A covering only 286 of the 1,445 registered units.

Under the circular, it stated that there would be no fare hike but LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III earlier said that the agency had submitted a proposal waiving some regulatory fees for all PUV operators.

The LTFRB chief added that the agency was also looking at cash and fuel subsidies for bus operators and other PUVs severely affected by the pandemic.