By Severino C. Samonte

QC Bus Service Program is worth emulating

The Quezon City government's move to make permanent its QC Bus Service Program (QCBSP) offering "libreng sakay" (free rides) to commuters in selected areas in the largest and most populous city in Metro Manila is worth emulating by other local government units (LGUs) in the country.

The 38-member QC Council enacted last March 27 the "Q City Bus Program Ordinance No. SP-3184, S-2023" institutionalizing the innovative and laudable program despite the continuing increases in the prices of fuel products and vehicle parts and other maintenance costs.

Lawyer John Thomas Alferos III, QC Council Secretary, said the ordinance was signed by Mayor Ma. Josefina G. Belmonte on April 28. The enactment of the ordinance was in support of the national government's social welfare program "to promote the welfare of the Filipino people, especially the poor and the marginalized."

Quezon City District 5 Councilor Alfred D. Vargas, who is the main author of the ordinance together with Councilor Ram V. Medalla, thanked the mayor for approving the measure.

Vargas said the QCBSP "aims to provide safety, convenience and comfort to commuters by designating special bus routes within Quezon City. It is designed with designated pick-up and drop-off points, following a set departure schedule at beginning and end-points. The program shall cater to the citizens of QC and individuals who are working, studying or transacting business within the city."

The free ride program was launched on Dec. 7, 2020 as early Christmas gift to local residents who had been experiencing difficulty in getting rides in public buses and jeepneys on their way to work and other destinations within Quezon City at the height of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

The eight designated routes for the QC Bus Service Program are:
* Route 1 -- Quezon City Hall to Cubao (and vice versa).
* Route 2 – Litex / Interim Batasang Pambansa (IBP) Road to Quezon City Hall (and vice versa).
* Route 3 – Welcome Rotunda to Aurora Blvd. / Katipunan Ave. (and vice versa).
* Route 4 – Gen. Luis-Katipunan Ave. Ext. to Quezon City Hall (and vice versa).
* Route 5 – Mindanao Ave. corner Quirino Highway to Quezon City Hall (and vice versa).
* Route 6 – Quezon City Hall to Robinsons Magnolia (and vice versa).
* Route 7 – Quezon City Hall to Ortigas Ave. Ext. (and vice versa).
* Route 8 – Quezon City Hall to Muñoz (and vice versa).

Among these routes, the longest is the one starting from the QC Hall to Gen. Luis St.-Katipunan Ave. Ext. in Barangay Nagkaisang Nayon, the northernmost area of Quezon City bordering with North Caloocan City and Valenzuela City.

In a way, the ordinance is a clear proof of the QCBSP slogan "Kasama Ka sa Pag-unlad" (you are part of QC's progress) that can be seen printed at the back of the buses.

Since the launching of the program, I have ridden in the participating buses for at least eight times, the latest on my way home to Novaliches on the evening of March 24, 2023 after attending the 50th anniversary celebration of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) at the Media Center along Visayas Ave. in Quezon City. In all of those rides, I felt very safe as the bus driver did not have to race with speeding regular bus drivers to pick up passengers along the route.

Senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and pregnant women are given priority in the provision of bus seats under the program.

Meanwhile, a number of daily commuters from Novaliches have hailed the institutionalization of the QC government's free bus ride program.

According to Marcelo Macasinag, a resident of Barangay Capri, Novaliches and president of the Maharlika Association of Concerned Elders and Senior Citizens of the Philippines, the ordinance is a big help to senior citizens like him.

"Imagine, even if you happen to be short of transport fares while travelling, you can still reach your destination by availing of the QC bus program," he said, adding he is hoping that other progressive cities in the National Capital Region (NCR) would emulate the QC Bus Program for the benefit of the elderly and other disadvantaged citizens.

Lalaine S. Junio, a third year AB Journalism student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Manila, said she is able to save a portion of her daily transportation allowance from her mother by riding in the QC bus from their home in Novaliches to the QC Circle near the City Hall in Diliman. From there, she takes another free bus ride to Aurora Blvd. in Cubao, where she boards the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 2 train to Manila.


About the Columnist

Image of Severino C. Samonte

He began his journalistic career by contributing to the Liwayway and Bulaklak magazines in the 1960’s. He was the night editor of the Philippine News Service when Martial Law was declared in September 1972. When the Philippine News Agency was organized in March 1973, he was named national news editor because of his news wire service experience.

He retired as executive news editor in 2003. He also served as executive editor of the Malacanang-based Presidential News Desk from 1993 to 1996 and from 2005 to 2008.