Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the status quo in land transportation is simply “unacceptable” as he saw for himself the long queue of passengers hoping to catch a free ride at the EDSA Carousel Monday morning.
“At 7 a.m. earlier, I saw the long line of passengers. I don’t think the status quo is acceptable to the President,” Bautista said after Monday’s flag raising ceremony and change of command at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board office.
Marcos earlier approved the extension of the Libreng Sakay program for the EDSA Carousel until December and free train rides for students from August 22 to November 4.
Bautista met with new LTFRB chairperson Cheloy Garafil to discuss possible solutions to the problem “as fast as possible.”
“We must focus on innovative ways of moving passengers and goods. Our mantra then shall be accessible, affordable, comfortable, and safe transport service throughout the country,” he said.
“I challenge Atty. Garafil and everybody here today to give focus on the task at hand—help the riding public. Their cries are getting louder by the day,” Bautista added.
Bautista, a former president of Philippine Airlines, said his own experience with the flag carrier will serve as motivation to transform and improve the transport sector.
“[PAL was] voted as the most improved airline in the world in 2019. That will serve as my inspiration, and I will use my experience to improve our air transport, as well as land, rail, and sea,” he said.
Garafil, for her part, said the marching orders of the President include streamlining the transaction process in the agency, providing assistance to public utility drivers and prioritizing the welfare of commuters.
“I’m a good listener as I am a former prosecutor,” she said.
For his part, DOTr Undersecretary Cesar Chavez said the department is now reviewing the possibility of expanding the routes covered by the free bus ride program.
“Providing free rides for more routes is now being reviewed because the allocated budget would suffice for the existing program but excluding the additional routes,” he said.