In line with the impending resumption of in-person classes, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) gears up for the transportation demand surge. As reported by Manila Bulletin, the agency is calibrating its existing land transport programs.
Preparation for the Transpo Demand Surge
As part of the preparation, the Road Transport and Infrastructure, Railway, and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) were ordered to continue the Service Contracting Program (SCP) and Libreng Sakay Program.
The DOTr is also working on fast-tracking the rationalization of public transportation routes. Part of the plan is to have 550 buses operate the EDSA Busway during rush hours.
The department is in talks with the bus consortium operating the EDSA carousel route and other government agencies to make sure that buses deployed will be able to serve the surge of passengers when face-to-face classes start.
Among the government agencies identified were the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines-National Capital Region (AFP-NCR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and InterAgency Council for Traffic (IACT).
In relation to improving bus services, the DOTr considers fast-tracking the grant of franchise rather than permits for buses used by students in Katipunan, Commonwealth, and Recto Avenue.
Calibration of Transportation Programs
The SCP was first introduced under Republic Act 11494 or Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, providing temporary livelihood to displaced transport workers during the pandemic. Under the program, PUV drivers will get regular subsidies, depending on the number of trips made per week, regardless of the number of passengers.
The transportation department ordered the immediate distribution of a P1,000 fuel subsidy to some 617,806 tricycle driver-beneficiaries identified by the DILG.
Last March, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P7 billion for cash subsidies for affected public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers.
Meanwhile, the revised “Libreng Sakay” program for students will only be available for Light Rail Transit (LRT-2) passengers, as reported by Malaya. The free ride initiative will start on the opening of classes on August 22, 2022, and will last until November 4, 2022.
The Libreng Sakay program was implemented on MRT-3 from March to June. The initiative was extended until the end of the former administration in response to the rising prices of fuel and basic commodities. In the calibrated transportation plan, the free ride program was not extended to the MRT-3 line.
The transportation department will appeal for an additional budget of P1.4 billion to sustain the free bus service in the EDSA Bus Carousel. They are planning to continue it until the end of 2022.
Need for Better Transportation Solutions
The expected transportation demand surge in the next months will not only be fueled by the resumption of face-to-face classes, but also the continued on-site operations of businesses. Earlier this year, the government ordered business process outsourcing companies to return to office to keep tax incentives.The need for better transportation solutions compelled legislators to introduce mobility-related bills.
Bicycle Act of 2022 was filed recently, as reported by Manila Bulletin. The proposed law outlines the rights of bicycle riders and seeks to establish of a Local Bikeway Office, which will primarily manage the construction and maintenance of a bikeway network. While promoting the use of active transportation, the bill aims to improve protection and safety of cyclists on the road.
Meanwhile, the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA) lapsed into law last April 15, 2022. Among other things, it tasks the Department of Public Works and Highways and local government units to build segregated lanes for light electric e-vehicles in all major local and national roads. These lanes can be integrated with bike lanes.
The legislation seeks to provide fiscal incentives as well to manufacturers and importers of electric vehicles.
Transportation infrastructure in the post-pandemic era will be among the key topics to be discussed in the upcoming The Outlook 2022: Philippine Real Estate Conference. Experts from different property companies and related industries will share how mobility solutions are shaping the residential and office market. The in-person event will happen on August 31, 2022.
Sources: Manila Bulletin, DBM, Malaya, Official Gazette