FREE RIDES. Public utility vehicles in Central Luzon offer free rides to commuters following the relaunch of the Service Contract Program in the region on April 13, 2022. So far, a total of 19,467 free rides were given out by 95 PUVs plying different routes in the provinces of Tarlac, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan. (Photo courtesy of LTFRB-3)

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – More than 19,000 commuters in Central Luzon have availed of free rides on different public utility vehicles (PUVs) since the resumption of the Service Contract Program (SCP) in the region last week.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-Central Luzon (LTFRB-3) has logged 19,467 free rides given out by 95 PUVs plying routes in the provinces of Tarlac, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan.

LTFRB Regional Director Nasrudin U. Talipas said on Monday the Libreng Sakay will expand to other several land transportation routes in the region in the coming days.

“Asahan ninyo ang pagbubukas ng mga karagdagang ruta at pag-arangkada ng mga karagdagang PUV para sa Libreng Sakay sa buong Region 3 sa mga susunod na araw (Expect for the opening of additional routes and additional PUVs for Libreng Sakay in the entire region in the coming days),” Talipas said in an interview.

The Department of Transportation and LTFRB resumed the program to help PUV operators, drivers, and commuters affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and increasing fuel prices.

Under the SCP, the government will pay PUV operators or drivers for their daily operational costs in return for free rides or provide them with monetary incentives based on their daily performance.

Aside from the operational incentives, PUV operators will also receive a one-time incentive of PHP5,000 per unit to cover their pre-operating costs.

The SCP was originally launched under Republic Act 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act to provide a temporary livelihood to displaced transport workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. (PNA)