Whopping PHP 1.4B needed for DOTr to continue Libreng Sakay on EDSA

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The Libreng Sakay program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has been a valuable means of easing travel for commuters. Currently, the program is free for students who will be using the MRT-3, PNR, and LRT-2 lines. This is well and good, but what of the busways along the major thoroughfare that is EDSA?

Libreng Sakay needs PHP 1.4B for DOTr to extend it until end of 2022

Metro Manila BRT Bus Lane Edsa libreng sakay

The DOTr is looking for ways to gather an estimated PHP 1.4B to keep the Libreng Sakay program going until year’s end. In addition to the free rides on railways, the EDSA bus carousels are also eyed to be sources of fare-free transportation for commuters. As it stands, DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista said that the current budget is not enough for the Libreng Sakay program to continue until then.

“Kung kelangan ituloy (If we need to extend it) until December 31, we will ask for additional budget from the DBM [Department of Budget and Management]. Hihingi kaming tulong sa presidente para magkaroon ng ganyang budget sa DOTr (We will ask for assistance from the president to receive such budget at the DOTr),” Jaime Bautista, DOTr Secretary

The newly appointed Secretary is taking his new post very seriously, too. Recently, he conducted a surprise inspection of the MRT-3 and some line agencies of the Department. To get an idea of the daily plight of commuters, he along with LTFRB Chair Cheloy Garafil plan to take public transport. In cooperation with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), this is seen as an important facet in assessing what needs to be addressed, aside from fare costs.

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Bautista also called on the public to both follow the rules of transport and send their feedback to the proper authorities and agencies for them to be addressed.

“Ang mga solusyon sa mga problema ay hindi namin lahat maiiisip pero kung magsasabi kayo ng suggestions and recommendations, matutulungan niyo kami ma-solve ang mga problema na ito (We won’t be able to find the solution to all programs but if you can give us suggestions and recommendations, you’ll be able to help us solve these problems),” Bautista said.

Before the new administration took its seat, the Libreng Sakay program along EDSA was extended until July 31. As it stands, this is well past the LTFRB’s Service Contracting Phase 3 coverage; it ended on June 30, 2022.

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All these efforts are made to “ease the burden of rising living expenses on Filipino families and help them save money” amidst the continuing rise of prices of fuel and basic commodities. The Libreng Sakay program can also be seen as being in line with Bautista’s commitment to transform and elevate the PH transport industry to global standards. Seeing as it’s mainly for the betterment of the public and the commuters, then this is a good step forward.

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But of course, the problem of funding remains. We hope that ways to help the citizens can be found. After all, everyone has their eyes set on the Department‘s and Secretary Bautista’s definition of “global standards”.

Mikko Juangco
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