SEVENTY-THREE more passenger buses will be deployed in Cebu City starting next week to help address commuter woes.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Central Visayas ordered the additional buses to operate 18 hours a day to address the need for more transportation for those working and going home at midnight.
LTFRB 7 director Eduardo Montealto Jr. said the 73 buses to be deployed next week were hired through their agency’s service contracting that helps public utility vehicle (PUV) operators secure contracts from the government so that they can operate even amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Drivers of the 73 buses can benefit from the program since the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will provide them with a subsidy once they start operating again.
They will receive P23.1 per kilometer subsidy once they start operations, Montealto said.
The 73 buses will be composed of 40 units from MyBus and 33 from Ceres operator Vallacar Transit Inc. (VTI).
Meanwhile, drivers and operators of traditional public utility jeepneys (TPUJs) in Cebu City can still apply for permits so they can operate again.
This, after Cebu City councilor James Anthony Cuenco issued a memorandum to the Cebu City Transportation Office, Land Transportation Office and LTFRB to still accommodate TPUJ drivers and operators who apply for permits at their offices.
Cuenco, in a memorandum issued on Dec. 2, 2020, requested the traffic agencies “to continue accepting applications for inspection/testing and permits” of TPUJ operators and owners.
The number of applicants going to his office prompted Cuenco to issue the memorandum.
Cuenco also asked the traffic agencies to provide official endorsement as the drivers’ or operators’ proof of compliance which can be used before the Jeepney Task Force (JTF) issues the Balik Pasada Permit.
The Balik Pasada Permit serves as the “key card” for the TPUJ units to ply the city streets again.
When the one-stop shop at the North Reclamation Area ended on Nov. 27, there were only 168 TPUJ units which were given approval after they passed all the inspection and tests.
Cuenco said other drivers might feel confident now after seeing the situation of the operation of the TPUJs.
“Apparently, they have observed that so far, the program is doing well and the cases of Covid have been going down,” said Cuenco.
As of Dec. 3, there are 209 TPUJ units which were granted a Balik Pasada Permit.
There are also two TPUJ drivers who tested positive for Covid-19 out of the 223 drivers who underwent swabbing on Nov. 25.
The two drivers are residents of Barangays Tisa and Punta Princesa, Cebu City.
Both are isolated in a quarantine facility in the city.
Of the 249 drivers who also underwent swabbing on Nov. 26, no one tested positive.
A negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result is one of the requirements for the drivers to secure their permits.
The drivers’ seminar will start on Dec. 7.
Cuenco will also submit his recommendation to the mayor’s office on Monday, Dec. 7, on allowing the TPUJ units from other local government units to enter Cebu City. / JJL, PAC / JKV