Commuters' Group Bats for Extension of Provincial Bus Routes
A commuters’ welfare group is asking the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to convert the franchises of provincial buses going to Metro Manila into city bus operations to serve commuters that might be affected by the planned closure of provincial bus terminals along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA).
Converting provincial buses into city buses will help address the demand for public transportation of passengers going to and from Metro Manila daily, according to Atty. Ariel Inton, president of the Lawyers for Commuter Safety and Protection (LCSP).
"We ask that they review the franchises of buses to see how many are traveling to Metro Manila regularly and convert these to city buses," said Inton in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Monday.
The commuters’ advocate further stated that removing provincial bus terminals along EDSA will displace around 30,000 passengers from provinces going to the metropolis.
"Metro Manila is no longer the same as 40 years ago. Most commuters coming from nearby provinces going to Metro Manila every day are now using provincial buses," said Inton.
Furthermore, the LCSP president believes that malls have contributed to the traffic congestion in Edsa as he cited data from the MMDA that provincial buses only comprise three percent of vehicular volume on the major thoroughfare.
"Gaano ba (nako)-contribute na traffic sa mga provincial bus terminals compared to the malls? Napakalaki ng contribution ng traffic ng mga malls. (How does provincial bus terminals significantly contribute to traffic compared to the malls? Malls have contributed largely to traffic congestion). EDSA is not designed to host malls," Inton said.
According to him, transportation officials should have equal treatment on malls and bus terminals in proposing measures to ease traffic in Metro Manila.
"Kung gusto natin talagang pantay-pantay ang tingin para lumuwag ang EDSA (If we want to have equal treatment to improve Edsa traffic), they also have to treat the way they treat the terminals yung mga mall," said Inton.
The MMDA has earlier said that it has requested the DOTr to extend the routes of city buses to the interim bus terminals in Valenzuela City and the city of Santa Rosa in Laguna to ensure ease of travel among commuters.
It also eyes to reduce the routes of provincial buses and deploy point-to-point buses to transport passengers from provinces that carry heavy luggage going to Metro Manila.
The MMDA has suspended its dry run of the provincial bus ban last May 6 pending its meeting with the DOTr and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to finalize the guidelines for the implementation of the policy.
Strict enforcement of the no loading and unloading policy of provincial buses along EDSA still remains in effect.
Data from the MMDA shows that there are 12,000 passenger buses in Metro Manila, 8,000 of which are provincial buses while 4,000 are city buses.
The agency intends to remove all 47 provincial bus terminals along EDSA by June.
Petitions were filed by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda and Ako Bicol Party-list at the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the provincial bus ban.