DOTr: No More Free EDSA Bus Carousel Rides From Jan. 1, 2023


Free EDSA Bus Carousel Rides to End on Dec. 31; DOTr Eyes Privatization

The Filipino commuting public will have to pay once again for their fares when using the EDSA Bus Carousel beginning on the first day of the new year on Jan. 1, 2023.

The 24/7 "Libreng Sakay" program by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will be ending this Saturday, Dec. 31, as announced by DOTr yesterday via Facebook.

Beginning at 5 AM on New Year's Day, commuters will have to pay for their fares from PITX to Monumento and vice versa.

The “Libreng Sakay” program was introduced amid the COVID-19 pandemic in November 2020 as part of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, as per a report by Rappler on Dec. 28. The program was supposed to end last July 31, but was extended until Dec. 31 under the directive of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) releasing on Aug. 9 the funding to support the program's extension.

The "Libreng Sakay" program, however, received zero budget for 2023. The DBM, as per a report by on Aug. 25, said that the scheme was not part of the government's regular programs and was thus not included in the 2022 National Expenditures Program (NEP).

The DOTr plans to privatize the operation of the EDSA Bus Carousel for next year. DOTR Secretary Jaime Bautista, in an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source on Nov. 29, said the agency can implement this for the new year and the feasibility study completed before 2022 ends.

"They can increase efficiency of the operation and make it profitable," Bautista was quoted as saying. "If all the stakeholders cooperate, there will be efficiency in the operations, so instead of the bus operators competing with each other, it will be one group operating as one."

The EDSA Bus Carousel's "Libreng Sakay" program has serviced 80,832,186 passengers, as of the LTFRB's count on Dec. 27, the DOTr said.

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