LTFRB seeks P1.28B from DBM to revive ‘Libreng Sakay’

Thousands of commuters will soon enjoy free rides again on the Edsa Bus Carousel once the funding for the program becomes available. In the meantime, commuters will have to pay for their bus fares.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Friday said it has yet to receive the P1.285 billion funding from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to continue the government’s “Libreng Sakay” program, which was halted in December last year due to budget issues.

“Once we receive the funding, we will continue the Libreng Sakay this year,” LTFRB Chairperson Teofilo Guadiz said at a press briefing.ADVERTISEMENT

On Dec. 29 last year, the Department of Transportation clarified that the government allotted P1.285 billion for the service contracting program under the 2023 General Appropriations Act. During the briefing, Guadiz also addressed several complaints about “inconsistent” fare collection at the Edsa Busway system.

Under a new fare matrix approved by the LTFRB, buses operating within the Edsa carousel are now allowed to collect a minimum fare of P15 per passenger.

A one-way ticket on an air-conditioned bus from Monumento in Caloocan City to the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange now costs P75.50, based on the new fare guide.

Guadiz said that while buses using the automated fare collection system or “Beep” cards experienced seamless transactions, “there are problems” in manual fare collection when bus conductors “interpret [the fare matrix] differently.”

“Despite the matrix, fares sometimes vary from P0.50 to P4,” Guadiz said.

He said he advised the bus consortiums operating in Edsa, namely Mega Manila Consortium Corp. and ES Transport and Partners Consortium, to immediately fix the issue.

Addressing complaints of bus shortage from passengers, Guadiz said the LTFRB will be adding 50 buses from “persons or companies who are not members of the consortium” if the needs of commuters are still not met.

At present, only 550 buses are allowed by the LTFRB to operate at the carousel.

But the LTFRB earlier said that it would continue to monitor passenger demand “to see whether the original 550 units are enough.”

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