The government is looking to revive its “Libreng Sakay” program for the EDSA Bus Carousel either within the first or second quarter of the year, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board said yesterday.
“We’re looking at the second quarter. Hopefully, if it can be done in the first quarter, the better. But in case, maybe in the second quarter,” LTFRB technical division head Joel Bolano said in a television interview.
He said this is because a budget has already been allocated for the “Libreng Sakay” program.
Bolano’s statement was a departure from the earlier pronouncement of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista that the program will no longer continue even if Congress allocated a P2.16 billion budget for the service contracting scheme.
Bautista explained the program costs about P12 million a day or P4.38 billion a year – about double the allocated budget.
When asked if the department is allowed to use the programmed fund for another item, Bautista said: “The LTFRB will study where to spend the budget under the GAA so it can benefit more people.”
Bolano said the LTFRB will still have to determine the process and the date of the implementation of the “Libreng Sakay” given the budget allocation.
According to the DOTr, the EDSA Bus Carousel accommodates around 320,000 to 390,000 passengers daily.
The LTFRB said there were now 550 buses on the EDSA Busway line after the number increased to 758 because of the “Libreng Sakay” program.
The board said the number of buses returned to 550 as the busway now implements a “fare box” system to charge passengers based on a fare matrix that it had approved.
The LTFRB said several point-to-point buses would be replaced by public utility buses that qualified under the specifications set for the EDSA Busway route.
The PUB units should apply for special permits before they could participate in the EDSA Busway program, the agency said.
The resolution provides that the PUB units on EDSA Busway should also apply for a fare matrix/guide before they could collect fares from passengers.