THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 has approved 65 petitions for special permits to add to the trips of provincial buses for the upcoming Holy Week.

The agency issued special permits to 35 provincial buses going to southern Cebu and another 30 units going to northern Cebu, LTFRB 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. told SunStar Cebu on Thursday, March 23, 2023.

This is in preparation for the large influx of Cebuanos returning to their provinces to take advantage of the five-day-long break on Holy Week.

Montealto explained that these special permits issued by the regional office do not pertain to additional units of provincial buses going to provinces. Rather, they just allow the buses to ply beyond the length of their existing routes.

He said there were bus companies that requested the LTFRB 7 to extend their routes, particularly to accommodate more passengers going to roll-on, roll-off (roro) ports for inter-island travel.

This will reduce the travel time for commuters as buses would extend their routes to other local government units.

Montealto said there are 350 operational buses plying the south, while 400 bus units traverse the north of Cebu.

The special permits will be effective from March 31 to April 17, Montealto said.

He said bus companies and operators can still apply for special permits even beyond March 31.

He also assured the public that there are sufficient bus units to accommodate passengers in both the north and south bus terminals.

Holy Week is from Palm Sunday, April 2, to Holy Saturday, April 8.

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday on April 6 and 7 are regular holidays going into the Easter weekend, traditionally giving Filipinos a four-day break.

This year, however, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. extended the break to Monday, after he moved the April 9 Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) holiday to Monday, April 10, to encourage domestic travel and increase tourism expenditures under the principle of holiday economics.

The LTFRB 7 will intensify its inspection of the terminals during Holy Week to ensure that buses traversing the provinces are roadworthy and safe for passengers.

Operators of buses that will be caught with defective units will be fined at least P5,000 per bus, depending on the evaluation.