CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Eight months since the government imposed strict controls amid the coronavirus pandemic, operators of about 10,000 buses in the provinces have asked Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to open the routes between Metro Manila and six regions in Luzon.

In a letter dated Nov. 25, the Nagkakaisang Samahan ng Nangangasiwa ng Panlalawigang Bus sa Pilipinas Inc. (NSNPBPI) asked Tugade to open the provincial routes from Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Bicol regions to Metro Manila.

“We are requesting that the routes begin and end at our existing terminals within Manila instead of the Sta. Rosa (Laguna province) terminal in the south and Bocaue (Bulacan province) terminal in the north,” NSNPBPI executive director Alejandro Yague Jr. said in the letter.

“I am looking into it,” Tugade said when asked for reactions on Thursday.

Inconvenience

According to the group, the two terminals give “tremendous inconvenience” to provincial passengers because of multiple transfers to city buses or vans and difficulty of moving cargoes.

“The direct trips will have shorter travel time with the least cost and will ensure the sustainability of public service,” Yague said.

 

To date, more than 95 percent of provincial buses have not been running.

Strict protocols

While the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have opened 12 routes in Central Luzon (Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales provinces) and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon provinces) to Metro Manila, and to Samar and Leyte provinces in Eastern Visayas, bus operators have yet to start dispatching their fleets, Yague said.

This was due to “very strict health protocol requirements from passengers and difficulty in acquiring and implementing the cashless advanced reservation system required by LTFRB,” he said.

The group assured Tugade that bus operators would abide by the protocols set by the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to ensure the safety and convenience of passengers. —TONETTE OREJAS

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