‘Libreng Sakay’ program out, Edsa Busway fares in
A one-way ticket on an air-conditioned bus from Monumento in Caloocan City to the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) costs P75.50, based on the fare guide issued by transport authorities after the termination of free rides on the Edsa Busway system.
The minimum fare is set at P15 for the bus service, which until Dec. 31 was free under the government’s “Libreng Sakay” program, according to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), which released the fare matrix on Saturday.
“The Libreng Sakay on Edsa Busway under the service contracting program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the [LTFRB] will cease operations by Jan. 1,” the agency said in its advisory.
Under Board Resolution No. 189, series of 2022, the Edsa bus rapid transit service will operate under the “Fare Box Scheme” using the fare matrix/guide, the LTFRB said.
The busway service, also called Edsa Carousel, runs the entire length of Edsa, which is considered the most vital thoroughfare in Metro Manila and also among its most congested. The service route has 19 stops including important landmarks such as Roxas Boulevard, Taft, Ayala, Buendia, Ortigas, Quezon and North Avenues and Balintawak.
While a ride southbound from Monumento to PITX costs P75.50, a ticket for the reverse route costs slightly less, at P73, based on the fare matrix.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Transportation Undersecretary Mark Steven Pastor, then the assistant secretary for road transport and infrastructure at the DOTr, told a Senate hearing that the fare from Monumento to PITX was only P56.
A total of 550 public utility buses (PUBs) from two consortiums—ES Transport and Partners Consortium and Mega Manila Consortium Corp.—will ply the Edsa Busway route, according to the LTFRB.
“Other point-to-point buses of the two consortia on the Edsa Busway will also be replaced by PUB units that meet the specifications of other PUB units on that route,” the agency said.
The board resolution requires all buses on Edsa to apply for the fare matrix or guide so they may start charging passengers.
The termination of the free bus ride program came after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) scrapped the P12-billion budget proposal of the DOTr to continue its operation in 2023.
According to the DBM, Libreng Sakay was not a regular government program as it was a “nonrecurring or a one-time expenditure item” introduced during the pandemic.
Earlier this week, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the government was planning to privatize the Edsa Carousel to “conform with international standards.”
Based on LTFRB records, a total of 80.8 million passengers had availed themselves of the Libreng Sakay program since it started in 2020. INQ
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