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Modern buses launched in Samar

Elmer Recuerdo

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A fleet of new buses were launched by the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board in Tacloban City as part of the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program in the aim to solve Samar Island’s lack of public transport options. ELMER RECUERDO

TACLOBAN CITY — The government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) goes a notch higher with the introduction of modern public utility buses and coasters that will run the route from this city to two other cities in the Samar province.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Atty. Martin Delgra III led the first launching on Wednesday of a fleet of buses that will run from one province to another under the PUVMP.

Ten units of buses to ply the Tacloban-Calbayog City route and 15 coasters to ply the Tacloban-Catbalogan route were introduced during the launch for a glimpse of what public transport would look like under the PUVMP, which is a flagship program of the President Rodrigo Duterte administration.

The modern public utility vehicles, all equipped with air-conditioning, speed limiters, GPS, CCTV, wireless Internet access, comfort rooms and an electronic fare collection system, will eventually replace the current non-airconditioned and dilapidated buses that run the route.

Delgra said the introduction of the new public transport system came as a result of a study that was conducted to identify where a more efficient transport system was needed.

Before the introduction of the new buses and coasters, the route from Tacloban to Catbalogan and Calbayog cities were served by old buses and UV Express vans.

UV Express is supposed to be a “point to point” system from terminal to terminal, but due to the lack of public transport especially within Samar Island, it has been allowed to pick and drop passengers along the highway. Aside from that, vans are now also plying routes beyond the 60 kilometers ceiling distance that it is allowed.

“It is no longer working on its original concept as a premium PUJ (public utility jeepney) service but is not competing with the buses. We will put the UV Express where they should be,” Delgra said.

According to LTFRB regional director Gualberto Gualberto, the buses and UV Express vans will still be allowed to ply the route until their franchises expire, after which bus and van operators will have to get new vehicles compliant with the PUVMP requirements and specifications under the Omnibus Franchise Guidelines and Philippine National Standards.

Gualberto said the new buses and coasters are classified as “super deluxe” and were thus allowed to charge fares higher than what is allowed for ordinary buses but still comparable to the rates of UV Express.

A quick computation for the Tacloban-Calbayog route, which spans 174 kilometers, shows that the UV Express fare is P348 while the new bus route will charge P339.

Gualberto added that the LTFRB will issue a new fare matrix for the new transport systems.

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