The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is eyeing to expand the on-going service contracting with the public transportation sector to meet the commuting public’s demand for a sufficient supply of safe public utility vehicles (PUVs) once Metro Manila is lifted from modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
“Amid the current need to reinforce stricter safety protocols especially on our public transportation, service contracting in transportation is one of our safest bet to ensure effective and continuous service for our commuters,” DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Sector Mark Steven Pastor said.
“This will also provide extra income for affected drivers and operators and help them transition once the protocols are lifted,” he added.
In the finalization of the stimulus bill 1564 or the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act”, DOTr has proposed to Senate for service contracting of public transport to be included in the budget allocation for the transport sector.
“We will continue to discuss and explore the implementation of the service contracting. We are hoping for its swift resumption and expansion, especially given the success of our previous contract service arrangement along EDSA,” Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra III said.
From June 1 to July 29, the DOTr has implemented service contracting in its MRT-3 Bus Augmentation Program in order to help address the decrease in MRT-3’s capacity due to strict observance of physical distancing.
“The 90 buses deployed by government, through service contracting, for the MRT-3 Bus Augmentation Program has been proven effective. We have received numerous positive feedback from commuters who benefitted from the program. In fact, we have serviced around 400,000 passengers since June 1 with the Bus Augmentation Program, and we are aiming to expand the same scheme in other routes and transport modes to better service our commuting public,” Delgra said.
Under a service contracting system, government will pay operators and drivers of buses and public transport units a per kilometer fee rather than the number of passengers being serviced.
Under MECQ, only dedicated shuttles for frontliners and company workers under allowed industries will be permitted to travel subject to strict health and safety protocols. Buses, jeepneys, taxis, trains, on the other hand, are prohibited.
“The DOTr is one with the call for a commuter-centric public transport system. Rest assured that while we are under stricter lockdown, the government is also discussing the resumption of public transport to enable the full movement of businesses and commuters to push for economic recovery,” Pastor said.