Tugade orders nationwide implementation of ‘Free Ride Service Program’
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade ordered the country-wide implementation of the agency’s Free Ride Service Program for health workers and authorized persons outside residence (APOR).
The Free Ride Service Program—which previously covered 20 routes in NCR—is now extended to other parts of the country, regardless of the community quarantine level in place.
“This is like a socialized transport system,” Tugade said. “Sa atin 'hong magigiting na essential workers, libre 'ho ito dahil napapailalim po ito sa tinatawag na Service Contracting Program, (our essential workers get free rides through the Service Contracting Program).”
Public transport was significantly decreased during the second round of ECQ in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby areas, due to quarantine restrictions. Tugade said that DOTr’s initiative aims to help the country’s essential workers get to their destination safely and more efficiently at no cost.
In addition, the Transport Secretary also said that the aforementioned program will help public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers.
“Ginagawa rin ho natin ito upang madagdagan ang kitang maiuuwi ng ating mga kababayang tsuper sa kani-kanilang tahanan (We’re also doing this to provide drivers with additional sources of income)," said Tugade.
Through the Service Contracting Program, the DOTr via the LTFRB is giving payouts to participating operators and drivers of public utility buses (PUBs) and public utility jeepneys (PUJs). A performance-based subsidy is provided from the kilometers traveled by their vehicles.
Under the law, P9.5 billion was allocated to help critically impacted transport sectors. The bulk of the sum will be used for service contracting efforts to assist PUV drivers and operators, whose livelihood was affected by the pandemic. From this budget, over P5.5 billion have been allocated for the temporary livelihood of displaced workers in the transport sector through the Service Contracting Program.
DOTr’s Free Ride Service for health workers and APORs will be implemented until the funds for the Service Contracting Program are fully utilized and disbursed.
And while Tugade expands the agency’s Free Ride Service Program, he reiterates the importance of following safety protocols. “Dapat pa ring ipatupad ang basic health protocols (Basic health protocols should still be enforced). Public transportation should not be a transmission vector of the virus,” said the DOTr Secretary.
Photo from the DOTr Facebook Page