BY NOEL TALACAY
THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) yesterday said there will be no fare increase for provincial buses when they partially resume operations on September 30.
LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra said passenger bus fares prior to the imposition of community quarantines in March will remain the same for the 12 modified provincial bus routes in Central Luzon that have been allowed to resume starting Wednesday.
The LTFRB has issued Memorandum Circular 2020-051 which allowed provincial public utility buses (PUBs) with valid Certificates of Public Convenience (CPC) or application for extension of validity to already resume their operations.
The circular, among others, requires all operating buses to have a QR Code for contactless payment.
The agency has initially approved 12 provincial bus routes in Central Luzon and CALABARZON, which includes: San Fernando, Pampanga – Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City; Batangas City – Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITx); Lemery, Batangas – PITx; Lipa City, Batangas – PITx; Nasugbu, Batangas – PITx; Indang, Cavite – PITx; Mendez, Cavite – PITx; Tagaytay City, Cavite – PITx; Ternate, Cavite – PITx; Calamba City, Laguna – PITx; Siniloan, Laguna – PITx; and Sta. Cruz, Laguna – PITx.
Citing the memorandum circular, Delgra said: “We will initially implement the same fare rates, rates before COVID-19, for now. This should be followed.”
LTFRB technical division chief Joel Bolano, in an online press conference, confirmed: “Currently under the MC (memorandum circular), we will implement the same fare rates initially. These are the previous far rates. We will follow this for now, the provincial fare rates.”
The LTFRB statement came following the appeal of the South Luzon Bus Operators who have complained about losing profits due to the limited number of passengers that their buses can accommodate.
Aside from the QR code, provincial bus operators are required to provide either an online facility for trip tickets purchases or entertain advance booking at the ticket booth at their terminals. All fare payments must be made prior to boarding.
Passengers must secure their trip tickets at least 48 hours prior to their scheduled trip. No walk-in tickets shall be sold, except for emergency purposes which may cover those concerning immediate family matters or medical concerns and passengers.
Passengers are likewise required to have their travel documents certifying they are not afflicted with the virus.
“Deliberate failure to comply with any of the provisions here with shall be construed as a violation of the terms and conditions of their CPC and shall be dealt with accordingly,” LTFRB warned.
LIMITED BUSES, PASSENGERS
Delgra said the resumption of provincial buses were limited to the 12 routes since the LTFRB, in coordination with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), had to first get the approval of local government units (LGUs) where the buses will be loading and unloading passengers.
Delgra said it was the LGUs which identified a common pick-up and drop off point in their jurisdictions.
Only 286 buses were allowed to resume operations.
The LTFRB chief said that the number of bus units was based on the number of passengers the LGUs are willing to accept.
“Napag-alaman po natin na merong mga LGUs na pumayag na buksan ‘yung borders nila pero meron silang maximum passengers allowed per day. So we will respect that (We were informed that there were some LGUs that agreed to open their borders but on the condition that they will impose a maximum number of passengers daily),” Delgra said.
Delgra said the number of routes and bus units may be increased, when more LGUs agree to allow provincial buses to make a stop in their jurisdictions.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, concurrent IATF co-chairman, on Saturday night said the task force wants a complete health protocol system in place first before allowing complete provincial bus operation and access to Metro Manila is allowed.
Nograles, during the Karlo Nograles Live program over Facebook, said the IATF had been continuously discussing this during their meetings and had always emphasized that there should be a good coordination between the provinces and Metro Manila.
“We need to put protocols to make sure, all the safety protocols, testing, all that needs to be done to make sure that we are not bringing the positive patients either going to coming back that’s why there system should be put in place,” he said.
A final decision on the resumption of the operations of provincial buses will be up to resident Duterte. – With Myla Iglesias and Jocelyn Montemayor