LTFRB chief vows prompt payment to Edsa Busway Carousel operators

The companies serve the Edsa Busway have committed “full deployment” of units, as the government vows to pay arrears, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said on Tuesday.

LTFRB Chairperson Cheloy Grafil said in a news conference that she received the support of bus companies to augment their operations and meet passenger demand.

“One of the things that we have talked about was the payouts. One of true reasons why they cannot fully deploy their fleet is because drivers were not being paid on time,” she said. “We have updated them on the payouts from when we assumed up to now.”

Grafil said the government has started the payouts “at Week Six to a part of Week 10.”

“We have paid P310 million in a span of two weeks. We asked them to not rush us because we are doing our best to be updated till the end of the month,” she said.

Grafil noted that the amount is “sufficient to cover for the deficiencies for the meantime so that we can have full deployment especially during rush hours.”

A full deployment, she explained, involves 440 bus units plying the Edsa route during rush hours. As of Monday, only about 200 buses are being deployed.

Grafil noted that the new government intends to continue the Free Ride Program until early December.

“We have enough funding,” she assured.

The government shells out somewhere between P74 million to P79 million per week for the program.

“In total, the government has paid P659 million up to Week 10,” she said.

The program is on its 15th Week.

“Our commitment to the bus companies is we will fix the delays. Once fixed, they’ll bill us on their deployment. There is no reason not to deploy at full capacity,” Grafil said.

The Free Ride Program was a project of the previous administration. It aimed to provide commuters a free transport option amid the pandemic.

It was, however, criticized by mobility and transport experts as a “band-aid” solution that does not address the transport crisis.


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