In line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching order to make Filipino lives comfortable, the Department of Transportation continued its “Malasakit” initiative by offering free train rides on MRT-3, LRT-2, and PNR and exempting from paying the Passenger Terminal Fee (PTF) on all PPA-owned and operated seaports and CAAP-owned and operated airports all over the country to all qualified students. Starting July 1, qualified students will receive free rides from the start of railway operations in the morning until afternoon starting July 1, 2019. For MRT-3, students will enjoy the free rides from 5:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Free rides for students in LRT-2 will be available from 4:30 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Philippine National Railways offer free rides for students from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Last August 1, 2019, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) will exempt all students from paying the Passenger Terminal Fee (PTF) in all PPA- owned and operated seaports all over the country. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) started to exempt qualified students from paying airport Terminal Fees which started last August 16, 2019 in all CAAP-owned and operated airports all over the country, respectively.
Background and Problem
The program aims to establish a culture or psyche of ‘punctuality’ to students and will aid in reducing their daily costs and expenses, which could be utilized for other school needs and requirements. Furthermore, the program can also help in decongesting traffic during rush hours, as the students will be encouraged to avail the free rides within scheduled hours.
Solution and Impact
Students get priority in the “Malasakit” initiative of the DOTr as they are assured of free rides on railways while getting exemption from terminal fees at ports and airports. DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said the aim of the initiative is to provide students and their parents with respite from expenses in recognition of the important role of education. This follows the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to emphasize on the education of our children which is the foundation of the growth of any nation. Student beneficiaries include those in:
- Nursery/Kindergarten Schools
- Elementary/Primary Schools
- High Schools
- Trade, Arts, Technical, Vocational Schools/Training Centers
- Colleges and Universities (undergraduate studies and courses only)
Students in graduate schools and courses are NOT covered by the Student Free Ride Program. Enrolled students may avail of the program by applying for a Student ID/Pass at the start of every school term/year, school semester, training period that they are enrolled in through online application. To date, the total of students who availed the student free train ride is 433,268. Total transaction count (per line, per month):
- PNR – July (19,523), August (16,459), September (17,676)
- MRT3 – July (24,547), August (34,039), September (45,281)
- LRT2 – July (84,136), August (83,942), September (107,665)
The total number of students who availed the student free passenger terminal fee in CAAP-owned and operated airports is 2,317. The total number of students who availed the student free passenger terminal fee in PPA-owned and operated seaports is 95,513. With education as the heart of this initiative, the immediate impact of this initiative is that the students are encouraged to establish a culture or psyche of ‘punctuality’ within themselves and will help them save more of their daily allowance and allot it instead, to other school requirements. On a long-term, this could help them in finishing their studies to help their families, in terms of financial aspect.
The National Youth Commission (NYC) has commended the Department of Transportation for coming up with the Free Train Ride Program for Students. According to NYC Commissioner James Ventura, the laudable move is consistent with the government’s thrust in providing better access to education and other government services necessary for youth development. Lawmakers also cited the Department of Transportation’s implementation of the student train fare exemption as it serves as a financial relief to Filipino families. Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas and Marino party-list Rep. Carlo Gonzalez thanked DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade for implementing the pro-people program, even before the signing into law of the proposed Student Fare Discount Act. As the implementation of the initiative continues, the DOTr is open for suggestions from the riding public as the initiative is set to be reviewed after three months to see what can be further improved.