Daily Tribune (Philippines)
Tugade orders free ride for health workers, APOR
To contribute to the whole-of-nation approach in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and to help essential workers get to their respective workplaces, Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade has ordered the nationwide implementation of the agency’s Free Ride Service Program for Health Workers and Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR).
Tugade directed the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to expand the implementation of the Free Ride Service Program, not just in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, but also to other parts of the country, regardless of the community quarantine level in place. The program will also include other essential workers or APOR not covered by the previous program.
The Transportation chief said the program aims to help essential workers get to their destinations safely and more efficiently by providing much needed transportation without any cost.
“This is for the people. This is like a socialized transport system. It’s the government that pays for it. People just get on board. This is to help the people. This is free for brave essential workers because it is under the so-called Service Contracting Program,” Tugade said.
The initiative intends to cushion the adverse impact of the enforcement of quarantine restrictions, especially the significant decrease in public utility vehicle (PUV) operations.
This is like a socialized transport system. It’s the government that pays for it. People just get on board.
It also helps PUV drivers earn extra income, an incentive inherent in the Service Contracting Program.
“We are also doing this to raise the income that our drivers can bring home to their respective homes. This is a big thing to help them with their daily expenses, such as food, water, electricity and other basic necessities, Tugade added.
The Free Ride Service for Health Workers and APOR is being implemented until such time the Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) funds for the Service Contracting Program are fully utilized and disbursed.
As of 12 April 2021, the Free Ride Program for Health Workers has recorded more than 2.2 million total ridership in Metro Manila and the different regions since it started operations on 18 March 2021. There are 20 routes servicing the Greater Manila Area under the program.
On the other hand, the free ride service for essential travelers or APOR covers 50 jeepney routes under the Service Contracting Program.
Under the Service Contracting Program, the DoTr through the LTFRB is giving payouts to participating operators and drivers of public utility buses and public utility jeepneys. They are provided with a performance-based subsidy, based on the kilometers traveled by the vehicle.