Members of the House Committee on Transportation on Monday, June 21 called for the loosening up of regulations in the implementation of public utility vehicle service contracting program (SCP) that offers free land transport ride to commuters.
This developed as Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, committee chairman, lamented the failure to the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to fully utilize the P5.580 billion budget released by the Department of Budget and Management for the implementation of the program under the Bayanihan II Law.
Presiding over a briefing on the implementation of the SCP, Sarmiento said another P3 billion is on standby for the continued implementation of the program.
Sarmiento said he received an information that only 11.91 percent of the P5.580 billion was utilized over eight months after the start of SCP’s implementation.
During the briefing, LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra confirmed that the said amount had already been downloaded and that the program that offers free ride to commuters, especially workers, is already in full swing all over the country.
However, Sarmiento showed dissatisfaction over the slow utilization of the allocation, saying that the LTFRB should come up with a road map that would spell more effective implementation in order to speed up the country’s bid towards economic recovery.
Sarmiento also noted that queues for the free ride along EDSA routes are quite long, indicating insufficiency in the number of busses that the LTFRB has tapped to service the area.
According to Delgra the EDSA route alone has registered recently a “sharp increase” in ridership from 41,700 before June to 182,000 last Monday.
The free ride in PUVs is being offered to commuters from 4 am to 12 midnight everyday.
To address the overcrowding in bus stops that might also endanger public health, Quezon City Rep. Jesus “Bong” Suntay urged Delgra to relax the rules in the choice of vehicles to be tapped for the free ride program.
“Maraming tao ang nakapila dahil kulang ang mga bus (There are many people queuing because there is shortage of buses),” said Suntay.
Instead of limiting EDSA to low floor buses, LTFRB should allow regular buses to participate in the program but limited only to 20 or 30 percent of the needed rides.