After more than six months of the COVID-19 outbreak, the government is now allowing provincial buses to hit the road again. This means you can finally ride the bus if you want to visit your hometown and go back to Manila. But note that the operations are still partial.
Only four provincial bus routes for now
Starting September 30, The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will open 12 provincial bus routes between Metro Manila and Central Luzon and Calabarzon. They are going to permit a total of 286 buses to partially operate under twelve routes this coming Wednesday. This number is only 30 percent of the 1,445 buses that were in business before the pandemic began.
According to LTFRB, they are only allowing the resume of public bus operations from the National Capital Region to four provinces namely, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Pampanga. Aside from that, there’s a regulation that drivers should load and unload passengers at terminals only. This includes the big terminals in the city such as the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITx) and the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City.
What should you bring before you can ride the bus again?
For the passengers, several documentary requirements are mandatory before they can board the public bus. If you want to ride, you must secure a travel authority from the police and a valid identification card. You should also include a paper document that states you consent COVID-19 testing if the LGU will ask for one.
Moreover, all passengers including the driver and the conductor should follow strict health protocols. This means no eating, drinking, and even talking inside the bus. They must also wear face masks and practice physical distancing of at least 1 meter. There’s also a protocol that they need to book their tickets two days before their ride unless they have an emergency.
Each bus will undergo strict sanitation services before and after each trip as LTFRB will regularly check them. The LTFRB chair said that there would be no fare increase. However, the agency sent a proposal to waive some regulatory fees for all PUV operators.
Passengers from the southern areas can now travel these bus routes via PITx: Batangas City, Lemery, Lipa, and Nasugbu in Batangas; Indang, Mendez, Tagaytay City and Ternate in Cavite; and Calamba City, Siniloan and Sta. Cruz in Laguna. Meanwhile, passengers from San Fernando, Pampanga can access provincial buses at Araneta Center.
Do you think this a good news for all?