Most provinces against return of provincial bus trips

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    LAND Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Martin Delgra III yesterday admitted that the resumption of provincial bus services from Metro Manila to other points of the country is going to take some time as local government units are wary about the influx of travelers.

    Interviewed over the Laging Handa public briefing, Delgra said that while bus operators, drivers and integrated terminal exchange operators are ready for the resumption of provincial trip services, the same could not be said of destination LGUs.

    This even as he disclosed that dialogues have been held with the League of Governors and Mayors to get them on the same page with the planning.

    “In the context of the pandemic, LGUs are also trying to get themselves ready to handle the concerns of incoming and outbound passengers. During our last consultations with the league of governors, many of them refused to consider opening their borders particularly for routes originating from Metro Manila,” he said.

    With a growing clamor from passengers for the resumption of provincial bus services, the LTFRB has sought the intervention of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to resolve the problem.

    “There are too few, as of the latest, out of 81 provinces, those who assented to the proposal to allow buses from Metro Manila are only four. Regardless, we will have to prepare to open provincial bus routes on a limited capacity,” Degra said.

    Asked to name the agreeable provinces, he identified only three – Antique, Quirino, and Bataan.

    “We have several things to consider not just reopening the regular routes but how to manage passengers from the point of origin to the point of destination? For instance if the destination is somewhere in Northern Luzon and there are several provinces that the bus will be passing through who refused, we cannot allow stops along the way,” the LTFRB chief explained.

    This forces the likelihood that bus services will become point-no-point or terminal to terminal.

    The problem does not end there, as Delgra pointed out that certain safety protocols would still have to be observed in light of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

    “We are still trying to review certain requirements that might be a bit, if I may say, burdensome on the part of the road-based public transport. For example, the requirement to test passengers. The fare per head would probably be about 200 or 500, but you have to undergo testing which will probably cost you more than P1,000,” he said.

    He stressed the need to enlist the cooperation of LGUs because they are at the receiving end of whatever problem would crop up.

    “Hopefully, we are looking at a timeline na within the month, we will be opening the provincial bus routes coming from Metro Manila or ending in Metro Manila,” he added.