THE OFFICE of Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio on Thursday said it would pursue partnerships with the private sector to expand its program offering free rides to commuters. 

Ms. Carpios office is planning to get additional buses and open more routes for the program, spokesperson Reynold S. Munsayac told a news briefing. 

Its clear that the government needs more buses that will provide services, especially at no cost,he said. Our goal is to find private partners that will also lend buses. We will shoulder the fuel, the salary of the drivers and, if needed, the repair and maintenance of the buses. 

Ms. Carpios office launched the program on Wednesday with five buses, two of which have been deployed to a bus carousel along EDSA, the capital regions major thoroughfare. The other three were deployed in Bacolod City and Cebu City in central Philippines and Davao City in the countrys south. 

Mr. Munsayac said the office now targets the bus route from Commonwealth and Fairview in Quezon City to Quiapo in the capital Manila. We received reports that there were many passengers there. 

Mr. Munsayac said students can avail of the free rides. 

The new school year is opening on Aug. 22 under a hybrid setup, but the Department of Education, which is headed by Ms. Carpio, is set to implement five days of face-to-face classes starting November. 

The Transport department earlier assured that public transport could cope with a potential spike in demand as a result of the resumption of physical classes this year. Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza