For the longest time, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have been offering free rides to frontliners and authorized persons outside of residence (APORs). No doubt, the service has benefited commuters affected by the reduced capacities of public utility vehicles (PUVs). Unfortunately, the government has stopped offering the free ride service starting today, July 1, 2021.
According to the LTFRB and DOTr, the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act is only effective until June 30, 2021. It is from this act that the agencies get funding for the Libreng Sakay program. Since the act is no longer in effect starting today, the free rides have also come to a halt. With that, those that have been taking advantage of the free ride program may have to take conventional PUVs for now.
There is some good news, though. The LTFRB and DOTr assured the riding public that they are doing everything they can to continue the free ride program.
“Dahil dito, makaaasa ang ating mga kababayan na gagawin ng DOTr at LTFRB ang lahat ng aming makakaya upang maipagpatuloy muli, sa lalong madaling panahon, ang programa sa pamamagitan ng paglalaan ng pondo para rito sa ilalim ng Republic Act 11518 o General Appropriations Act (GAA) 2021. Sa ngayon, pinoproseso na po ng DBM ang pagpapatupad nito,” said the DOTr and LTFRB in a statement.
(Because of this, the riding public can expect that the DOTr and LTFRB are doing everything to resume the project as early as possible. The program will soon be funded under Republic Act 11518 or the General Appropriations Act 2021. At the moment, it is being processed by the DBM to ensure it is passed.)
Aside from the Libreng Sakay program, the Service Contracting program also comes to a halt. With that, drivers and conductors will no longer receive payment from the government until the program resumes again.
There's no word when the DOTr and LTFRB's free ride program will resume. Hopefully, it won't take too long. We're sure a lot of commuters have depended on it to get to and from work ever since the pandemic started.