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By EDD K. USMAN
(SDN) — “LIBRENG SAKAY”! (FREE RIDES)
That’s good news in these tryingest of times.
It’s because transportation has been one of the biggest problems in and around the country as the restrictions in daily life to prevent the spread and transmission of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) hits home hard.
Across the world, the novel coronavirus has already killed as of today, May 3, over 300,000 people and more than 2.7 million coronavirus patients from 6.38 million plus global cases of infections. The figures are from the Covid-19 Dashboard of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU), in Baltimore, Maryland, United States.
In the Philippines, based on numbers from the Department of Health (DOH), 4 p.m., June 3, there are 19,748 cases, 4,153 recoveries, and 974 fatalities.
In Metro Manila and suburbs with the rollout of the General Community Quarantine (GCQ), any news about transportation, particularly if it’s free, that’s one huge sigh of relief for the commuting public long been on a stay-at-home condition. And aching to break free.
So, when several local government units (LGUs) came up with the “Libreng Sakay free transportation during the GCQ, it certainly is a welcome change.
With many government agencies and companies starting to open business, thousands of workers need to get to their workplace, preferably punctually.
Libreng Sakay is a program to assist them and other commuters who face challenges in getting on time to their work.
The LGUs of Rodriguez, Rizal province, Quezon City, Pasig City, and Valenzuela City have stepped to the plate for the free rides.
Not only front-line workers need transportation but also the regular employees.
Rodriguez Mayor Dennis “Tom” Hernandez has announced the municipality will implement the Libreng Sakay program with four pre-determined routes.
They are from San Isidro to Litex; San Rafael to Litex Jollibee; Burgos to Litex Market; and Montalban to Marikina, the mayor said. He added that each route has pre-determined drop-off and pick-up points and schedules for passengers.
“Dahil limitado po ang pampublikong transportasyon sa ilalim ng GCQ at marami ang nagbabalik trabaho, prayoridad po natin na matulungan at mapagaan amg kanilang biyahe pagpasok lalo na ang ating essential front-liners, health workers,” Hernandez emphasizes.
(Translation: Because public transportation is limited under the GCQ, and that many are returning to work, it’s our priority to help and ease the travel and reporting to office especially our front-liners, health workers.)
The free rides being provided by the mayor is open not only to Rodriguez residents but to the public as well. He said the free rides are from Monday to Saturday starting at 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. in all the four routes.
As the Covid-19 protocols are still very much on, Hernandez reminded passengers to comply at all times with guidelines such as wearing of mask and observing social distancing to prevent adding to the spread of the coronavirus infection.
“Ang lahat ng sasakay ay dapat mayroon suot na face mask at mainam na may dalang sariling dalang disinfectant palagi bilang protection. Ihanda rin ang mga kaukulang dokumento tulad ng ID o travel pass para sa checkpoints na daraanan,” the mayor reminds passengers.
(Translation: All those who will take the rides should wear face mask and also important to bring a disinfectant for protection. Be ready with your documents like ID or travel pass to show to checkpoints.)
Recall that the GCQ regulations in effect in Metro Manila has limited the volume of public utility vehicles (PUVs) that are allowed to operate, thus, severely impairing people’s mobility, including workers. Passenger buses and jeepneys are still not allowed to ply their routes.
But a bit of good news from June 22 to 30, the GCQ’s second phase will be allowing regular PUVs and modern PUVs or jeepneys and UV Express to operate.
In Metro Manila, Quezon City, Pasig City, and Valenzuela City are also implementing the Libreng Sakay program.
From the Department of Transportation (DOTr), here are some of the guidelines for the Transport Sector: