President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Friday approved a proposal by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to extend the free EDSA Carousel bus rides and provide free rides for students who will be using the MRT-3, LRT-2, and PNR when face-to-face (F2F) classes resume in August.

According to the DOTr memo, the extension of the “Libreng Sakay” program was approved considering the availability of budget for service contracting under the 2022 national budget.

The free EDSA Carousel bus rides will last until December 2022.

The MRT-3, LRT-2 and PNR rides will be free of charge for students for F2F classes.

Previously, the MRT-3 free ride program entitled passengers to ride the rehabilitated line anytime between 4:40 a.m. and 10:10 p.m for free.

The DOTr said current MRT-3 fares were already heavily subsidized and that it could not continue the free ride program for all passengers.

“Considering the welfare of students, however, whose learning outcomes have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, [we] recommend implementing a Libreng Sakay for Students Program for the first quarter of School Year 2022-2023, or from 22 August 2022 to 04 November 2022. The Libreng Sakay for students will be implemented in MRT-3. LRT-2, and PNR,” the DOTr memo read.

The Department of Education is expecting schools to have a full implementation of F2F classes next school year. John Ezekiel J. Hirro