FREE RIDES. Passengers board a bus offering free rides at the Roosevelt stop of the Edsa Carousel on July 11, 2022. From April 11 to Sept. 4, a total of 170,913,133 passengers have so far enjoyed free rides as part of the third phase of the government's Service Contracting Program. (PNA photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA – Over 170 million passengers have been served by the latest Service Contracting Program (SCP), the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said Tuesday.

In a project update, the LTFRB said a total of 170,913,133 passengers have enjoyed the benefits of the SCP during its third phase from April 11 to Sept. 4.

Layon ng programa na matulungan, hindi lamang ang mga operator at driver na naapektuhan ang kabuhayan sa panahon ng pandemya at patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng gasolina, kundi, gayundin ang mga commuter (The program aims to help, not only operators and drivers whose livelihood was affected by the pandemic and the continued rise of oil prices, but also the commuters),” it said.

In return for compensation, select partner operators and drivers offer free rides to the public as part of the SCP.

Former transportation secretary Arthur Tugade began the third phase of the SCP on April 11 and which continues under the Marcos administration under the leadership of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista and LTFRB chairperson Cheloy Garafil.

With a total budget of PHP7 billion under the 2022 national budget, drivers and operators who join the program may choose one of two kinds of contracts.

One is a gross contract where they will receive compensation based on the number of their journeys per week -- with or without passengers, and a net contract where they will receive compensation based on the number of their journeys per week in addition to what they earn from fares. (PNA)