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Baguio readies return of provincial buses

Baguio readies return of provincial buses

By Vincent Cabreza

BAGUIO CITY—With borders opened to tourists, provincial buses will soon be allowed to enter this city from 11 Luzon provinces and cities, including Metro Manila.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Wednesday approved the gradual resumption of mass transportation on a limited scale as proposed by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Buses from the provinces of Tarlac, Zambales, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and Bataan will also be allowed as well as those from Pangasinan, La Union, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao and Mountain Province.

Magalong said he wanted to experiment with four buses first to determine how Baguio would manage the risk and instead proposed to limit passengers to 120 in a day.

Bus stations at the points of origin and to destinations will be required to put up their own triage to screen passengers, who must book trips before traveling, according to the LTFRB.

Local gov’t consent

But the LTFRB would need the consent of local governments from where the buses would originate, said Lalaine Sobremonte, Cordillera director of the LTFRB.

She said the City of San Fernando in Pampanga, Clark International Airport, Bataan and Bontoc town in Mountain Province had consented to the plan.

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Bus companies participating in the test run will operate as “point-to-point services,” so routes that take only two to three hours of travel time will not be allowed stopovers, Sobremonte said.

Health, sanitation protocols

Trips to Bontoc may take eight hours and buses often stop in Buguias town, Benguet province, so health and sanitation protocols must be introduced at bus stops there by the local government and the bus companies, she said.

According to Sobremonte, fares would not be adjusted so each bus company should expect to continue serving daily trips at a 50-percent capacity.