DBM releases ₧1.4 billion to fund free rides at Edsa carousel route

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) disbursed an additional P1.4 billion to support the extended “Libreng Sakay” program that funds free rides for commuters along the Edsa Carousel Route.

The Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Service Contracting Program (SCP) was set to end on July 31, but was extended by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. until the end of the year.

Apart from supporting the mobility requirements of students and the labor force amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the program aims to provide financial support to transport service providers through performance-based payouts.

“Ito pong paglagak natin ng additional funds ay suporta natin sa hangad ni President Marcos na i-extend and programang Libreng Sakay ng Department of Transportation at ng Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board hanggang Disyembre,” Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman said in a news statement issued on Tuesday.

The fund release for the SCP will benefit around 628 units of onboarded public utility buses on the EDSA Busway Route in the National Capital Region.

“Malaking tulong at ginhawa po ang Libreng Sakay sa bulsa ng mga commuter, lalo na para sa mga estudyante at mga kabilang sa labor force. This will support up to 50 million ridership from September 1 until December 31,” Pangandaman added.

The DBM released the fund after Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista disclosed that they need an additional P1.4 billion allocation to sustain the free ride program until December this year.

The government spends P10 million daily to implement the nationwide program, according to Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), an attached agency under the Department of Transportation.

As of June 20 this year, the program already benefited over 71 million commuters.

The free-ride program, together with service contracting, and fuel subsidies, were the measures used by the government to help the public transportation sector cope with the impact of the pandemic and the recent increase in fuel prices.

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