Transport groups Laban TNVS, Manibela, and PISTON are staging a weeklong transport strike from Monday, March 6, until Sunday, March 12. This is to protest the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board's jeepney modernization program.
Manibela chairperson Mar Valbuena previously estimated around 40,000 public utility vehicles in the National Capital Region that would participate in the strike.
In response, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) prepared 25 "Libreng Sakay" vehicles that can collectively accommodate 1,200 passengers per trip.
The MMDA suspended the number coding scheme on March 6, but its acting chairman Romando Artes announced in a press briefing that it will be back on Tuesday, March 7 following the traffic jams it caused.
Metro Manila local government units (LGUs) are likewise offering their own "Libreng Sakay" programs to ferry over 1,000 passengers. These include but are not limited to the LGUs of Manila, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, and Taguig.
Here's how you can avail of the government's "Libreng Sakay" programs during the weeklong transport strike in early March.
The MMDA's 25 "Libreng Sakay" vehicles include four air-conditioned buses, two regular buses, and 13 commuter vans. These will be dispatched in areas with stranded commuters. "We assure the public that we are ready and our assets and resources are readily available for dispatch to areas where there are reported stranded commuters to not compete against those transport groups who will not be joining the strike," MMDA acting chairman Don Artes said.
The Philippine Information Agency on Mar. 5 reported that an inter-agency meeting was held that day at the MMDA headquarters to "finalize the emergency plans, prepositioning of assets, and transport routes that will be affected by the strike." As of this writing, however, the routes are still yet to be released.
On March 7, MMDA announced that they are deploying 14 buses in some parts of Metro Manila around 4:30 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. to help the affected commuters during rush hour.
The routes are as follows:
- EDSA Roxas Boulevard southbound (in front of Heritage) going to Sucat;
- EDSA Roxas Boulevard southbound (in front of Heritage) going to FTI;
- EDSA Timog going to Monumento;
- Philcoa going to San Mateo; and
- Monumento going to Polo Valenzuela.
As of the second day of the weeklong transport strike, the MMDA said the protest has had limited effect. General Manager Usec. Procopio Lipana, head of the Inter-Agency Task Force Monitoring Team Secretariat, said only 88 (5%) out of the 1,680 vehicles have been used to transport affected commuters since yesterday. This figure represents both the national government and Metro Manila LGUs.
Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan is overseeing the deployment of over 300 vehicles under the Oplan Libreng Sakay. This includes over 280 e-trikes providing free transport within secondary roads, on top of 32 vehicles (buses, trucks, etc.) that are designated in major thoroughfares from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. Routes can be found here.
Pasig's Libreng Sakay program will cover five routes that all start at Pasig Mega Market going to their respective destinations (and vice versa). These include Shaw Boulevard, Ligaya via Dr. Sixto Antonio Ave., Kalawaan then San Joaquin, Ligaya via C. Raymundo Ave., and Dr. Sixto Antonio Ave. then Rosario then C. Raymundo Ave. Maps and schedules of specific routes can be found here.
Quezon City's Q City Bus with free Wi-Fi and aircon will ferry stranded QCitizens across eight routes. Specific schedules and routes can be found here.
Mayor Francis Zamora issued a public advisory informing locals that the San Juan LGU has three executive orders in response to the transport strike. Aside from suspending regular routes and ordering local schools to hold classes online in the meantime, the San Juan LGU offered "Libreng Sakay" for stranded residents using official vehicles of the city and its barangays.
Taguig, under Mayor Lani Cayetano's leadership, will offer Libreng Sakay all week long from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. All deployed vehicles have signages that read "Libreng Sakay hatid ng City of Taguig" and bear the city's official logos. Routes can be found here.