THE LAND Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said Wednesday that the reopening of provincial bus routes is running into continued opposition from most provinces, who remain unwilling to open their borders to travelers from Metro Manila.
“It has always been a concern. In fact we already had a meeting with the umbrella organization of locally elected officials kung saan nagsabi sila na (where they stated that) a large majority of the provinces are still not willing to open up their borders,” LTFRB Chairman Martin B. Delgra III said in a virtual briefing.
He said the LTFRB is looking forward to the reopening of provincial bus routes, but it should come with the consent of local government units (LGUs).
“Nangunguna po ‘yung public health consideration natin dito (Public health considerations remain the priority),” he noted.
“Among the preparations (for restoring bus service) are the consultations and dialogues with integrated bus terminal operators para mapaghandaan nila yung mga terminals nila (to get their terminals ready),” he said.
He said the Transportation department, the LTFRB and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority have identified the integrated terminals for buses that will be coming from provinces.
“Meron pong mga lugar na kung saan pinapayagan na po ng kanilang respective LGUs ‘yung inter-regional routes, gaya sa Mindanao, kung saan meron na pong byahe galing sa Caraga going to Davao City, or from Cagayan de Oro to Caraga. So sa mga lugar kung saan nagbubukas na po ang mga LGU ng kanilang mga border, pinapayagan na po natin ang mga provincial buses, but then again in a calibrated manner (Some inter-regional routes are running, like Caraga to Davao City or Cagayan de Oro to Caraga. Provincial buses are allowed in a calibrated manner in some LGUs that admit them),” Mr. Delgra added.
He said the LTFRB may propose to LGUs common pick-up and drop-off points for provincial buses.
“Tinitingnan natin… kung okay ba sa LGU na doon sa integrated terminal sa kanilang lugar o kaya doon malapit sa hospital in case there will be some health emergencies that need to be addressed o kaya malapit sa kanilang quarantine or isolation facility (We’ll see if they agree to integrated terminals or points near hospitals or isolation facilities in the event of an emergency,” he said.
The government added more routes and allowed more public vehicles to operate after Metro Manila and nearby cities went back to a more relaxed form of lockdown Wednesday.
The LTFRB said the number of traditional jeepneys allowed to operate in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) had risen by more than half to 12,443 from the previous lockdown.
The number of UV Express units allowed to operate also increased by almost two-thirds to 1,621.
The regulator increased the routes of UV Express units to 51 from 47, while traditional jeepney routes rose to 126 from 63.
More than 3,600 public utility buses have been allowed to operate, along with 364 point-to-point buses. — Arjay L. Balinbin