The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Monday said it was in need of an additional P1.4 billion to fund the “Libreng Sakay” program for buses in the EDSA Carousel route until the end of the year.

In a Laging Handa briefing, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the DOTr would ask the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for the additional funding.

“Yun pong libreng sakay sa EDSA Carousel ay mayroong certain budget. Kung itutuloy po natin ‘yan hanggang December, we will need additional budget of around P1.4 billion which [is not] available sa existing budget namin,” he said during the Laging Handa briefing.

Marcos Jr. earlier approved the DOTr’s proposal to extend the free EDSA Carousel bus rides until December 2022 and provide free rides for students who will be using the MRT-3, LRT-2, and PNR when face-to-face classes resume in August.

“Kung kailangan ituloy until Dec. 31, we will ask for additional budget from the DBM [Department of Budget and Management]. Hihingi kaming tulong sa presidente para magkaroon ng ganyang budget sa DOTr,” Bautista said.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board said on June 22 that 80 percent of the funds for the “Libreng Sakay” program that gives free public utility vehicle rides had been exhausted.

The free ride program, launched under former President Rodrigo Duterte, had a P7-billion budget. John Ezekiel J. Hirro