The two bus consortia that operate along the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) Carousel have promised to maximize the deployment of their units during rush hours to address long queues of passengers and the anticipated return of face-to-face classes in August.
In a statement Monday, LTFRB chairperson Cheloy Garafil said the two consortia have been deploying around 200 buses during rush hours compared to the allowable maximum of 440 public utility buses (PUBs).
“Today, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista and I have met with the two consortia operating at the EDSA carousel to talk about relevant issues. They have promised to enforce maximum deployment of buses, especially during rush hours,” Garafil said in Filipino.
To fulfill the government’s side of the ‘Libreng Sakay (free ride)’ program, she said the LTFRB will accelerate the release of payment to the two consortia.
“When I was appointed to the LTFRB two weeks ago, the sixth week of the program hasn’t been paid yet, but it was already at its 13th week. I have immediately ordered the fast-tracking of the payment,” she said.
To date, she said the LTFRB has paid PHP310 million to cover the sixth up to the 10th week of the program.
“We have promised to further improve the processing of their payment so it will be up-to-date by the end of July,” she said.
During the meeting, she said Bautista promised to look into the establishment of a terminal in Monumento in Caloocan City to serve as a “staging area” and rest stop for bus drivers and conductors.
“This will help by ensuring there are enough buses that can immediately respond to an increase of passengers in stations,” she said.
Other discussions during the meeting include the upgrade of facilities at bus stops to provide more comfort to passengers even during rains, fare rate adjustment amidst the rising fuel prices, addressing the unauthorized use of the busway by some vehicles, and allowing “limited standing” passengers during rush hours.
“We will continue such dialogues with stakeholders so that together we can elevate the level of public transport in our country for all passengers,” she said.
Last week, Garafil waited in line and rode a bus at the Edsa Carousel as part of a surprise inspection and to experience the novel transport system.
While the busway has “instilled the value of order and discipline” to the riding public, she said there are still many improvements to be made such as addressing long distances between some stations in major commercial districts, a unified fleet management system, and better accessibility for differently-abled persons. (PNA)