A commuter group today appealed to Metro Manila dads to allow the resumption of provincial bus operations including entry into the country’s main thoroughfare EDSA.
Ric Rivera, founder of Pilipino Advocates for Society and Development or PASADA, a non-governmental organization committed to the welfare of the Filipino commuters, and transport workers, says more than 200,000 commuters per day beginning this week, would be affected if the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will not allow provincial buses to ply their routes and use their own terminals.
Rivera says the reason being given by MMDA is not supported by data. MMDA chairman Ben Abalos is reportedly worried that traffic at EDSA would further worsen if the MMDA allows provincial buses entry into EDSA.
” Pardon me, but it is clear that EDSA traffic right now is already at its worse state. According to a Japanese and Philippine funded study, eighty percent of vehicular traffic at EDSA are caused by private vehicles. Traffic caused by buses is inexistent because the IATF and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has disallowed the entry of provincial buses into Metro Manila. So how could traffic get worst?,” says Rivera in an interview.
IATF members including Cabinet secretary Karlo Nograles and Health secretary Francisco Duque are already convinced that provincial buses should already be allowed to prevent a possible Armageddon of long lines of commuters going to the provinces.
Earlier, Senator Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian already supported numerous calls from commuters to allow resumption of provincial bus operations at EDSA. Gatchalian says bus operations are critical in efforts to revive the Philippine economy hardest hit by restrictions caused by the pandemic.
Rivera revealed that one of the reasons for the hesitancy being felt by the MMDA is the pressure being given by no less than Transport secretary Art Tugade who is pushing for the use of the Bocaue intermodal bus terminal. Duque and the rest of the officials of the Duterte administration are worried that the use of the terminal may turn into a “super spreader” event. The terminal has only a capacity of 100,000 for every hour.
Likewise, several officials of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board or LTFRB are likewise requiring provincial bus operators to secure special permits, causing many to just stop operations.
” Why is the LTRFRB requiring provincial bus operators to secure special permits when they already have their own franchises? This is another bureaucratic layer that may force us to file a case against the LTFRB before the Anti-Red Tape Commission. President Duterte is against red tape,” says Rivera.