Gov’t scraps free rides for essential workers
Free rides offered for essential workers and authorized persons outside residence (Apors) will end on Wednesday, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced on Tuesday.
The LTFRB said the 2021 budget allocated for the Service Contracting Program Phase II, in which the free ride program falls under, has all been used up.
“Based on the monitoring reports of the LTFRB, it showed that the overall funding [for the program] has been consumed,” the agency said in a statement.
The program aims that essential workers, especially those in the health sector, be given free rides amid the shortage of public utility vehicles (PUV) available on roads due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
PUV drivers contracted by the LTFRB for the program were paid a fixed rate per kilometer of their trip, with the transportation agency proposing P10 billion for the service contracting alone.
The payment will be done whether the PUVs have had passengers the whole week or none at all.
Payouts and incentives
According to the LTFRB, the program will stop on Wednesday, Dec. 22. The program was launched in November 2020 under Republic Act No. 11494, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which allocated P5.56 billion for the free ride program that garnered over 31 million riders, based on the agency’s data.
Over P4 billion was allocated under the Bayanihan Act for the free rides program while P2.3 billion was allotted from the 2021 General Appropriations Act.
“With the end of the Service Contracting Program Phase II, the LTFRB remains diligent in providing payouts and incentives to all [PUV] operators and drivers that participated in the program,” the LTFRB stressed.
“It is an honor for the agency to provide this assistance to our commuters, operators and drivers amid this pandemic,” it added.
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