SUBIC BAY FREEPORT: The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) on Tuesday announced it has approved a cashless transport system here to further promote public health safety in the face of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

sbma - SBMA OKs cashless public buses
This Subic public utility bus will use an automated fare collection system which will soon see operation in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO FROM SBMA

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, in a statement, said the agency has recently given its go-signal for Autokid Truck Solutions to create a line of public utility buses that will utilize an automated fare collection system and be compliant with social-distancing rules as well.

“This is an innovative concept that fulfills a felt need in this time of the pandemic, so we’re going for it,” Eisma said.

“With this, we can minimize the dangers of the virus transmission, thus creating a better environment for workers, residents and visitors in the Subic Freeport,” she added.

According to Autokid Subic Trading Corp. Chief Executive Officer Kevin McHale Yao, the proposed project would provide an efficient, environment-friendly, and safe and comfortable transportation for the public.

“Public transportation services (PTS) is a vital part of modern urban economies. An efficient PTS encourages passengers to use public services instead of private vehicles,” Yao said.

“This preference reduces traffic, air, and noise pollution, and accident rate in cities,” he added.

Foremost among the features of the new system is the use of loadable payment cards that would preclude the need for passengers to carry cash for their bus fare.

Yao also stressed the added advantage of predictable travel time, as the firm would regularly deploy vehicles at a certain time period so that the public would know exactly when to expect the buses.

The company has proposed three bus routes in Subic’s Central Business District. One will be from Kalaklan Terminal to Main Gate Terminal and vice versa, another from Main Gate Terminal to Royal Duty-Free and vice versa, and the third from Main Gate Terminal to Kalaklan to Royal Duty Free to Main Gate.

The proposed fares will be P25 per person for the first two routes, and P30 per person for the third route, which is longer.

The SBMA and the company are already discussing a dry-run of the routes for which the buses will be fielded to see how the plans would actually work out.

Yao also pointed out that Autokid will field environment-friendly buses that are Euro IV-compliant, using Yuchai engines. He added that the units will be equipped with comfortable seats, air-conditioning, a global positioning system, and closed-circuit television camera to ensure the safety of the riding public.

Following the approval of Autokid’s proposal last month, the SBMA had required the firm to register its fleet of motor vehicles and have its drivers accredited by the agency.

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