The Department of Transportation (DOTr) today said that it has registered a total of more than 2 million in ridership for its “Libreng Sakay” or Free Ride Service for Health Workers program amid the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to DOTr Road Transport and Infrastructure Assistant Secretary Mark Steven Pastor, as of 7 January 2021, the program's total ridership nationwide was recorded at 2,001,461.
"Natutuwa po kami na umabot na sa mahigit 2 milyon ang ridership ng programa dahil sa patuloy na pagtitiwala at pagtangkilik ng ating mga health workers. Mahigpit pong bilin ng ating mahal na Kalihim, si Secretary Tugade, na huwag na huwag pong pababayaan ang ating mga health workers na patuloy na naglilingkod at lumalaban upang mapigilan ang pagkalat, at nang tuluyang masugpo ang COVID-19," Asec Pastor emphasized.
Of the registered total ridership, the National Capital Region (NCR)-Greater Manila Area recorded 554,625 ridership since it started operations on 18 March 2020, a few days after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon was enforced.
Starting with just three routes, the program continues to service health workers covering 20 routes in the NCR-Greater Manila Area despite the lifting of the ECQ.
Meanwhile, in other regions outside the NCR-Greater Manila Area, the free ride services being offered by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) were able to ferry a total of 1,446,836 health workers since the start of regional operations.
The DOTr implemented the free ride service for health workers to help ease the burden of these frontliners in getting to their respective medical communities, as public transportation was suspended with the enforcement of the ECQ as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Buses participating in the free ride service for health workers in the NCR-Greater Manila Area are serving routes that link medical facilities or hospitals with various COVID-19 isolation or treatment areas.
The ongoing implementation of the free bus service for health workers is made possible in coordination with the Office of the President, Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT).
Moreover, other agencies which have previously cooperated were Office of the Solicitor General, House of Representatives, Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Commission on Audit (COA).
Bus companies which are currently participating in the program include HM Transport, Jasper Jean, Ceres Transport/Goldstar, Philtranco, RRCG Transport, Jac Liner/ Dagupan Bus.
Meanwhile, other bus companies, such as the San Agustin, MetroExpress, Precious Grace Transport, St. Rose Transit, Hafti Transport, G-Liner, Manrose, Pilipinas Autogroup, Beep, Mitsubishi Motors, Elmer Francisco Industries, Isuzu Philippines, Foton Motors, Suzuki, MERALCO e-Sakay, Lucena Lines, Pangasinan Five Star Bus Co., Inc., City Bus, Star Bus, Earthstar Express, Inc., Gell Transport, at Jam Liner, Diamond V8, Pascual Liner, Pamana Transport, UBE Express, DLTB, Genesis, Hi-Star, Thelman Transit, Star8, at Megaworld Corp. (Citylink), Hino, Hyundai, uHop, and Toyota Motor Philippines, likewise participated in the program.
Also assisting in the implementation of the program is Petron Corporation which has been providing the participating bus companies with fuel subsidy. Other oil companies which provided assistance were Phoenix Petroleum, CleanFuel, Total Philippines, and SeaOil Philippines.
The DOTr also reminds that vehicles ferrying health workers are still exempted from paying toll fees in all expressways in Luzon. The free toll arrangement is in cooperation between the DOTr, through the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), and the toll road operators.
Meanwhile, the DOTr assures that the free ride service program for health workers strictly enforces health and sanitation protocols, particularly the 7 Commandments for public transportation as recommended by health experts, to contain the spread of COVID-19. These include the following: 1) Always wear mask and face shield; 2) No talking and making phone calls; 3) No eating; 4) Keep public utility vehicles well-ventilated; 5) Conduct of frequent disinfection; 6) No passengers with COVID-19 symptoms are to be allowed inside the public transportation; 7) Always observe appropriate physical distancing (“one-seat-apart”) rule.
09 January 2021