The ongoing dry run of SM Puerto Princesa’s shuttle van terminal operations, which also ferry arriving and departing airport passengers for free, will be extended until the first three months of 2023.

The SM’s management requested the extension during a consultation last Thursday, which was granted by the City Council’s committee on transportation. The committee’s chairman, Councilor Cesario G. Awat, is scheduled to report the extension to the City Council during their regular meeting today.

The dry run, which began in September, was supposed to last only 30 days, but it was extended until December 31.

During Thursday’s committee meeting, SM mall manager Maidja Saliente requested that the terminal be permanently installed at the mall, but Awat said such a move would require an ordinance.

“Since we no longer have enough time this year, we will have to tackle that next year,” Awat said.

“We will propose an ordinance by January and will be scheduled for public hearing by 2nd week,” he added.

The shuttle transport terminal at SM was established as an intervention for arriving tourists and residents at the airport to have free transportation from the airport to the mall, according to Demetrio C. Alvior, Jr., chief of the City Tourism Department (CTD).

“Actually, nabuo yan simula noong tinanggal ng airport ang mga tricycle sa loob, at binawal na rin ang parking kasi ang nagpa-park dyan ay mga tourist transport pero pag tiningnan mo sa ordinance bawal sila dyan kasi ang tourist transport ay for hire,” Alvior explained.

“So, to address that, at dahil nga involved din yung mga tourists, pumasok kami. What we did was to bridge the problem and since hindi lang naman tourists ang dumarating, ang ginagawa ng staff natin na nasa airport, nag-i-inform sa arriving passengers na mayroong free ride,” he added.

Commenting on the reaction of tricycle drivers on the effect of the free transport, Awat said he does not see any effect at all, but added that their concern will be tackled.

“And since pwede rin naman sila maghatid ng pasahero sa airport, hindi nga lang sila pwede mag-pickup, hindi rin talaga kawalan sa kanila,” Awat said.

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