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71M riders benefited from Libreng Sakay –DOTr

At least 71 million commuters nationwide benefited from the “Libreng Sakay” in public utility vehicles (PUVs) under the government’s nationwide service contracting program, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said.

In a statement, the DOTr said a total of 71,222,260 passengers were serviced as of June 20, Monday, under the agency's Service Contracting Program Phase 3.

The Libreng Sakay program will end simultaneously on June 30, the last day of the Duterte administration, according to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Under the service contracting program, PUV operators and drivers who will participate in the government’s free ridership program will receive a one-time payout and weekly payments based on the number of kilometers they traveled per week, whether they have passengers or not.

“Ang pagpapatuloy ng programang Libreng Sakay sa ilalim ng Service Contracting Program Phase 3 ay alinsunod sa direktiba ni Secretary Art Tugade na bigyan ng transport assistance ang ating mga kababayan, lalung-lalo na ang ating medical frontliners at iba pang essential workers, sa gitna ng pandemiya, at patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng gasolina,” the DOTr said.

“Sa pamamagitan din programa, mabibigyan ng insentibo ang mga drayber at operator base sa bilang ng kanilang nakumpletong biyahe kada linggo — may sakay man o wala,” it added.

(The continuation of the Libreng Sakay program under the Service Contracting Program Phase 3 is in line with Transportation Secretary Art Tugade's directive to provide transport assistance to our countrymen, especially to our medical frontliners and other essential workers, amid the pandemic and the continued increase in fuel prices. Through the program, drivers and operators will be given incentives based on the number of trips they complete per week - with or without passengers.)

According to the DOTr, the program was given a P7-billion budget in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2022, covering an initial 515 buses out of the 532 units registered in the program. —Giselle Ombay/KBK, GMA News