THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Davao Region (LTFRB-Davao) announced on August 17, 2022 that the Peak Hours Augmentation Bus Service (Phabs) has now resumed operations serving Calinan and Catalunan Grande areas.

Atty. Ernest Benz Davila, officer-in-charge of LTFRB-Davao, said in an email interview with SunStar Davao on August 17, 2022, that Davao Metro Shuttle will be serving the two areas. The bus operator has allocated nine buses for the Calinan route and five for the Catalunan Grande. The bus routes will be operational from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., daily.

Davila said they are also in the process of establishing the routes for Toril and Lasang.

The Toril loop will start at Toril then will travel to Ulas, Bangkal, Matina, Quirino, Apo View Hotel, C.M. Recto, Roxas Avenue, and vice versa. The Lasang loop will start at Lasang and travel to Bunawan, Tibungco, Panacan, Sasa, Old Airport, SM Lanang, Victoria Plaza, Tionko, and vice versa.

“We are processing the Special Permit of LCI (Land Car Incorporated) for three units for Toril-Roxas Loop and for the Golden Valley for six units for Lasang to Tionko Route,” Davila said.

However, LTFRB-Davao said that there are still no bus operators who have signified to serve the Cabantian and Mandug routes.

According to LTFRB, for air-conditioned buses, the fare is P13 for the first 5 kilometers (km) and the succeeding after 5 km is P2.20, while the non-air conditioned buses are P11 for the first 5 km and an additional P1.80 per km for succeeding 5 km.

The Phabs has been brought back to address the shortage of public utility vehicles, especially during peak hours.

“Based on actual observation, [and] coordination with CTTMO (City Transport and Traffic Management Office), our social media online survey and Facebook posts of different individuals and news clips, we can see complaints regarding the shortage and absence of jeepneys and public utility transport during peak hours, especially recently during recent rainy afternoons and evenings,” Davila said.

He said they have also anticipated the increase in commuters due to the resumption of face-to-face classes. The shortage of public transportation was also worsened by a decrease in operating traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJs) and Filcabs in 2022.

The number of units operating traditional public utility jeepney or Filcabs in the city decreased by 12 percent to 6,515 as of July 2022 from 7,417 in 2017.

Meanwhile, Davila said some operators and franchise holders refused to operate some routes due to the increase of fuel prices.

“There have been some challenges also with our bus operators due to the pandemic, same with our taxi operators and jeepneys; Even existing jeepney franchise holders. Many of them have renewed their franchise but are not on regular operations due to an increase in fuel prices. There are a lot of cases also, especially with the taxis, their franchises have been renewed but there are no available drivers,” Davila said.

He said there are cases where drivers have retired and sought self-employment like delivery service drivers. KSD