MORE than 19,000 commuters in Central Luzon have availed themselves of free rides in different public utility vehicles (PUVs) since the resumption of the Service Contract Program (SCP) in the region last week.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-Central Luzon has logged 19,467 free rides given out by 95 PUVs plying routes in the provinces of Tarlac, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and LTFRB resumed the program to help PUV operators, drivers, and commuters affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and increasing fuel prices.

The Service Contracting Program Phase 3 was revived by the agency to help drivers and operators of public utility vehicles and also the commuters affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the increasing fuel prices.

The LTFRB initiated the program in cooperation with Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and other government agencies.

"Muling ipagpapatuloy ang programa sa ilalim ng General Appropriations Act 2022, na may kabuuang pondo na Php 7 billion," the DOTR stated.

Under the program, PUV operators may select from two schemes -- Gross Contract, which is based on the number of trips per week with or without passengers.

The other method is the Net Contract, where aside from their income, the operators will also be given additional benefits based on their trips per week.

"Sa Gross Contract, ang dating P82.50 na bayad per kilometro sa mga consolidated PUBs, Tourist Bus at Mini-Bus, ay itinaas sa P84, samantala, ang dating P52.50 na bayad per kilometro sa mga consolidated modern at traditional PUJs at UVEs ay itinaas sa P54," the DOTR said.

"Para naman sa Net Contract, ang dating P45.50 pesos na bayad per kilometro sa mga consolidated PUBs at Mini-Bus, ay itinaas sa P46.50, samantala, ang dating P27 na bayad per kilometro sa mga consolidated modern at traditional PUJs at UVEs, at Filcab ay itinaas sa P28," the agency added.

Healthcare workers and Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (Apor) will again be provided free rides.