By ROCAYA SUMNDAD OTICAL
ILIGAN CITY – The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Bangsamoro autonomous government are working closely to open more ‘Friendship Routes’ in the Bangsamoro region.
This was revealed by LTFRB chairman, lawyer Martin Delgra III after the launch of the Davao-Marawi route for public utility vehicles (PUVs) in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur on Wednesday.
Delgra III said they are working closely with the BARMM’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications, and the regional LTFRB offices to establish the identification of the routes.
“We have talked initially with (Marawi City) Mayor (Majul) Gandamra about these partnerships, and now we can see that we can already see (heavy) traffic, and it’s not just about (improving) traffics, we are also going to improve the routes (for PUVs),” he said.
The Davao City-Marawi City route will be first served by the Mindanao Star Bus Transport Inc. (MSBTI), a bus company under the Yanson Group of Companies which operates in Visayas and Mindanao.
The bus line usually had been servicing routes within Davao City, Cotabato, and Soccsksargen region which is composed of South Cotabato, (North) Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City.
Arwin Roas, one of the bus drivers present during the event, said there were initially six out of 15 buses prepared for the particular route and they have done road-testing from Davao City, with stopovers in Maramag and Talakag towns in Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro City, and Iligan City.
Ruel Pagunsan, MSBTI operations manager, said based on the current rate, fare prices would range from PHP797 to PHP948 spanning around 431 kilometers from Davao City to Marawi City, and a travel time around 10 to 15 hours, based on the standard PUV speed of 80 kilometers per hour.
In a video message, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the new inter-regional routes will not only achieve mobility and connectivity in the regions but will also spur economies as it will open up commerce and trade in the areas.
Meanwhile, Gandamra said the opening of the friendship routes along with the availability of public utility vehicles is a great opportunity to serve the riding public with more accessible, affordable, and convenient public transport.
“This does not only connect two cities but it connects different provinces and different regions. It connects economies, industries and most importantly it connects the lives of our constituents,” he said.
The other friendship routes launched are Iligan City to Marawi City with 27 Class 2 PUVs operated by Mindanao State University (MSU)-Marawi Iligan Transport Services Corporation, and the General Santos City to Dipolog City via Cotabato with 15 provincial buses operated by Rural Transit Mindanao Inc., the sister company of MSBTI. (With agency)