Free P2P bus rides for commuters until March 6

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(file photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Passengers coming to and from Ortigas and Makati now have the option to ride the air-conditioned point-to-point (P2P) buses parked along EDSA Shrine.

Robinson's Galleria at the south corner of EDSA Shrine and Park Square in front of Dusit Hotel (Makati) are designated as loading areas, while the unloading area is at the Robinson's Summit Tower along Ayala Avenue.

Unlike the government's premium buses with higher fares, these buses offer a free ride until March 6 (Sunday).

From EDSA Shrine in Ortigas, passengers travel straight to Ayala Avenue in Makati — with no stops along the way.

"We are encouraging more residents in the area to just leave their cars at home," said Darwin Regulayan, Regional Operations Manager of Robinsons Galleria.

This is the shopping mall's way to help the government decongest traffic along EDSA, in partnership with HM transport.

"This is the initial run. Three buses. We will increase this as demand peaks up," said Regulayan.

The bus can accommodate up to 45 passengers. The first trip leaves Ortigas at 5:30 a.m. with a 30-minute interval until 8 p.m.

When coming from the Makati drop-off point in Park Square, the first bus leaves for Ortigas at 10:30 a.m. with a 30-minute interval until 8:30 p.m.

Since the buses leave on time without stopping, the scheme is expected to cut travel time by 30 minutes.

During rush hour, regular buses may take up to an hour from Ortigas to Ayala Center.

Some commuters lauded the new scheme.

"Hindi na kami mababawasan ng kita... Sana araw-araw ganito," said passenger Resty Bundang.

[Translation: "Our salaries won't be deducted anymore... I hope this will be a daily scenario."]

Another passenger, Edgardo Marcelino, hoped that the Ortigas to Makati P2P would be available for good.

"Maganda 'yung ganito kung magpapatuloy 'to. From point to point, from here to Ayala, may mga ganitong libre," said Marcelino.

[Translation: "This is good (service) if it will be pursued. From point to point, from here to Ayala, there is a free service like this."]

The new bus service also got the approval of women commuters.

"Bago, maganda, convenient," said commuter Andrea Carpio.

[Translation: "New, reliable, convenient."]

The service is also a hit to commuters both from far-flung and nearby areas.

"I live in Makati, so it's very convenient for me to ride in a bus,"  said passenger Cecille Celestino.

The bus service along EDSA Shrine runs until the last week of May.

But starting on March 7 (Monday), a fare of P30 will be collected from each passenger.

It's cheaper than the premium buses that charge passengers of as much as P55.

HM transport expects ridership to peak up in the coming months, as it plans to replace the air-conditioned buses with premium buses that have wheelchair slots for persons with disabilities and free Wi-Fi onboard.

The Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) earlier launched a P2P service that currently operates along three routes in Metro Manila, ferrying passengers from Quezon City to the Makati central business district.