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Provincial buses may soon enter NCR again

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Certain provincial bus routes to and from Metro Manila may be reopened, according to a report by Philippine Star, quoting the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra said the agency is preparing for the reopening this month of some provincial bus routes originating from and ending in the National Capital Region as the NCR eases into a more lenient community quarantine status.

“We’re already reopening, if I may say that – inter-provincial and inter-regional routes except the one here in Metro Manila, which we are ready to open,” Delgra said at a Laging Handa online briefing.

“We’re organizing them. Hopefully we’ll be able to open it within the month,” he added, referring to coordinating with provinces to open their borders to cross-provincial buses.

Resuming provincial bus operations in and out of Metro Manila has become possible as some provincial governments have agreed to reopen their borders to accommodate cross-province public transportation.

Out of 81 provinces nationwide, at least three have initially agreed to accommodate cross-border travel from Metro Manila, including Antique, Quirino and Bataan.

Delgra said agreements with the local government units (LGUs) need to be secured first before provincial bus operations to their areas could be allowed to resume.

Some provinces still oppose reopening their borders, especially to travelers from Metro Manila, considered the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Public transport from Metro Manila to the provinces require us to coordinate with LGUs concerned. They receive these passengers. Since we are in the context of the pandemic, LGUs also need to be prepared on how to handle arriving and departing passengers,” Delgra said.

It has been six months since the government enforced a full shutdown of transportation services but it has gradually reopened some operations on a limited capacity.

Some interprovincial and inter-regional routes have been opened in regions outside Metro Manila.

Delgra said the LTFRB is waiting for policy direction from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), but noted that preparations are underway for reopening the biggest public transport terminals in Metro Manila.


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