Bus trips between the provinces and Metro Manila may resume within the month, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board said Wednesday, amid calls to expand public transportation.
LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra said transport authorities are ironing out final preparations for the resumption of bus routes between the National Capital Region and other parts of the country, even though most provinces remain reluctant to open their borders for travel to and from Metro Manila.
“We are finalizing it and hopefully we will be able to open it within the month,” Delgra said during a virtual press briefing.
Provincial buses are banned from entering Metro Manila and are required to carry only half of their passenger capacity, as the entire country remains under varying quarantine levels. Metro Manila remains under general community quarantine until the end of the month, where public transportation is allowed.
Only four out of 81 provinces consulted were open to the resumption of bus operations to and from Metro Manila such as Bataan and Quirino, Delgra added.
“Many of them still don’t want to open their borders for travel to Metro Manila,” he said.
Meanwhile, the inbound travel by returning residents to the provinces in Western Visayas may now resume after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) lifted its suspension.
“The IATF approves the partial lifting of the temporary suspension of inbound travel by returning residents to Region 6, as approved during the Inter-Agency Task Force Resolution 69 dated Sept. 7, 2020,” the IATF Resolution No. 71 read.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed the lifting of the suspension, saying returning residents in Region 6 may now travel.
“We confirm that the temporary suspension of inbound travel of returning residents in Region 6 composed of Iloilo City and the provinces of Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, and Antique has already been lifted,” he said in a statement.
Any requests for the imposition, extension, and lifting of moratorium by local government units (LGUs) will be decided by the regional IATF and will be enforced by the National Task Force to ensure that the proper process is followed LGUs, he added.
Earlier, the IATF imposed a temporary ban on locally stranded individuals to Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Antique, and Iloilo City upon the request of LGUs following a rise in coronavirus cases.
Lanao del Sur, Bacolod City, and Iligan City are currently under modified enhanced community quarantine, the second most strict community quarantine.
While most parts of the country have eased travel restrictions, Delgra said local government units have to be consulted on inter-regional travel since there are limitations due to the pandemic.
“We need to coordinate with the LGUs concerned because they are the ones who will cater to the passengers and since we are in the context of a pandemic, they are also preparing for it,” he said.