Edsa bus carousel (PNA file photo by Jess Escaros)

MANILA – President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Friday approved the extension of the free Edsa Carousel bus rides until December and free rides for students who will be using the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3), Light Rail Transit-2 (LRT-2), and Philippine National Railways (PNR) when in-person classes resume in August.

The memo came after President Marcos' recent meeting with officials, headed by Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista and Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez, at Malacañang.

"Considering the availability of budget for Service Contracting under the General Appropriations of 2022, the undersigned recommends the continuation of the Libreng Sakay (Free Ride) program for all passengers of the Edsa Bus Carousel," a portion of the DOTr memo read.

The move will ease the burden on rising living expenses and help Filipinos save money, especially with the impending return of face-to-face classes after more than two years.

The DOTr said current MRT-3 fares are already heavily subsidized, which was vital in its decision to recommend discontinuing the free rides for all passengers.

"Considering the welfare of students, however, whose learning outcomes have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the undersigned recommends implementing a Libreng Sakay for Students Program for the first quarter of School Year 2022-2023 or from 22 August 2022 to 04 November 2022," another portion of the DOTr memo read, covering MRT-3, LRT-2, and PNR.

The Department of Education, now under Vice President Sara Duterte, estimates that more than 38,000 schools are set for the resumption of face-to-face classes. (PR)