LTFRB to reopen Davao-Manila bus route this week

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 15) — Commuters will soon be allowed to travel to more places in the coming days as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board opens new bus routes, including one linking Metro Manila and Davao City.

LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra said Thursday that more provincial buses will be allowed to return to the country's roads this week, allowing increased travel across regions seven months after lockdowns were enforced.

Bus trips from Davao City as well as from Mabalacat, Pampanga to Metro Manila and back have been cleared by local executives, he said. Davao-Manila land trips take more than a day to complete.

"Tuloy-tuloy po 'yung pagrerepaso at sa pag-uugnayan sa mga LGU para mabuksan pa at dadami pa ang provincial bus routes na papasok sa Metro Manila [We continue overhauling and coordinating with LGUs to open more provincial bus routes that will be allowed to enter Metro Manila]," Delgra said during a Malacañang press briefing.

Earlier, the agency brought back 12 provincial bus routes, which link Central Luzon and Calabarzon to bus terminals in Cubao, Quezon City; Alabang, Muntinlupa; and Parañaque.

Delgra added that there have been efforts to rationalize routes and to limit bus stops to integrated terminals when entering Metro Manila.

Select jeepney and bus routes have also been allowed to ferry passengers around Metro Manila.

Apart from these modes of transport, Delgra said that the LTFRB is not putting a limit to non-route based vehicles such as taxis, ride-hailing services, and private shuttle services.

Meanwhile, Delgra said that while he welcomes the Cabinet's decision to reduce physical distancing aboard public utility vehicles, risks remain.

"Natutuwa po tayo sa balitang ito [We are happy with this news], although it's still a challenge to address public health," he said, while noting that roadworthiness is also a factor as this could put people in danger.

READ: Cabinet approves one-seat distancing in public transport

"Umaabot na po tayo sa mga 68-69% of our public utility vehicles dito sa Metro Manila [We have reached about 68-69% of our public utility vehicles here in Metro Manila]. For other regions concerned, we work closely with the LGU in having to increase the capacity," Delgra said, .

He added that the number of vehicles and capacity can be significantly increase in the next two to three weeks.

Monitoring continues as the agency hopes to raise the capacity and predictability of available rides, saying it also means longer or uninterrupted hours on the road to ensure continued service. He added that although more jeepney routes have returned, some drivers are still reluctant to head out as they fear getting infected or are unsure if they can breakeven.

Meanwhile, he added that the LTFRB is looking to roll out some ₱5.58 billion worth of subsidies to displaced drivers between now and December, as provided under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.