LTFRB eyes discounts instead of free rides

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27) — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Friday said it might offer discounts to commuters and fuel subsidies for drivers instead of bringing back "Libreng Sakay."

LTFRB Chairperson Teofilo Guadiz III explained that giving discounts would stretch the ₱1.2-billion budget of the agency for six to nine months.

He added that the other modes of transportation such as jeepneys and shuttle services may also be covered by the discount and subsidy, not just buses.

"Aaminin namin na kung ang pinag-iisipan natin is gawing libre ang sakay, hindi ito kakayanin," Guadiz said.

[Translation: We admit that if what we're thinking about is to give free rides, we cannot handle it.]

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista earlier admitted that with the current ₱1.2-billion budget that the agency has, it is unlikely to extend the Libreng Sakay program.

Bautista added that the EDSA free rides spend around ₱10-12 million a day.

"The intention of the leadership is to stretch the money for as long as we can and to include jeepneys, shuttle rides, hindi lang buses," Guadiz said.

"Malamang ang gagawin dito ay we will just be giving discounts kasi kapag ang ginawa namin is libreng sakay, like what we did last December, 'yong ₱1.2 billion is hanggang apat na buwan lang. It should be by this February maglalabas sila ng guidance which we're going to give to the transport groups," he added.

[Translation: The intention of the leadership is to stretch the money for as long as we can and to include jeepneys and shuttle rides, not just buses. What could possibly be done is to give discounts because if we do give free rides like what was done last December, the ₱1.2 billion will only last up to four months. It should be by this February that they will release guidance which we're going to relay to the transport groups.]

After a month-long giving of free rides to commuters due to the holiday rush, the Libreng Sakay program was halted last Dec. 31.

READ: EDSA bus rides to charge passengers starting Jan. 1

The DOTr also confirmed that various private sectors have expressed interest in the privatization of the EDSA busway.

Bautista said they will work with the private sector this year and encourage them to participate in the privatization plan.

READ: DOTr seeks help from PPP for EDSA busway privatization