” Strict Window Hours might disfranchise thousands of voters.”

PASADA, a commuter, and transport workers’ group, today appealed to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to respect the injunction by a Quezon City court allowing bus firms to use their private terminals to prevent a repeat of a “commuter-geddon” that happened during the holy week rush. Another such incident may lead to the disfranchisement of voters in provinces outside Metro Manila, as thousands may again encounter problems securing rides home.

Dom Hernandez, Secretary General of the Pilipino Society And Development Advocates or PASADA CC, a non-governmental organization of commuters and transport workers, says they expect more buses on the road if only the LTFRB will lift conditions forcing bus firms to use the Northern Luzon Expressway Terminal (NLET) in Bocaue Bulacan. An LTFRB administrative memo allowed provincial bus firms to secure special permits to operate. One of the conditions for issuing the permit is the use of the NLET. Such use, however, invalidates or affects the court injunction that allows bus firms to use their private terminals at any time.

The group likewise cited the written opinion by PCOO Undersecretary Kristian Ablan expressing the view of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) that a memorandum issued by the LTFRB has no effect anymore since circumstances have changed in Metro Manila and the rest of the country under the lowest alert levels.

“In solidarity with the National Public Transport Coalition chaired by no less than Ariel Lim, we appeal to the LTFRB and the MMDA to lift the window hours policy as this affects the efficient operation of provincial buses. Thousands of commuters will be going to their home provinces for Monday’s national elections. We expect another deluge of commuters this week. Please, we don’t want any confusion. Commuters only want to go home,” says Hernandez.

The Pilipino Society And Development Advocates Commuter-Consumer (PASADA CC) is a non-governmental organization registered since 2019. In 2022, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) recognized PASADA as a legitimate party list organization running for a spot in this election.

Hernandez adds that the LTFRB must lift all conditions, especially those requiring buses to use the NLET or Northern Luzon Terminal based in Bocaue Bulacan. This condition is the root cause of a dearth of provincial buses despite the LTFRB permitting the resumption of bus operations.

” We learned that bus firms are being forced to use the terminal as an embarkation and disembarkation site. Our sector has already registered our opposition to using this terminal because it is inconvenient for most of us. Government must listen to us. The palace has already given its position. We don’t know why officials of the LTFRB and MMDA refuse to follow the president’s directive,” Hernandez adds.

For decades, private bus terminals have provided commuters with safe and convenient embarkation and disembarkation areas. Pasada does not oppose the use of a standard terminal but implementing such at this time would only cause more confusion and chaos in the streets.

A study shows that the NLET is not an intermodal terminal, only a common area similar to those found in private bus terminals. In late 2018, the Department of Transportation and Railways entered into an agreement with a group operating the Ciudad de Victoria compound to turn this into a bus terminal to cater to thousands of buses plying the Northern Luzon route. When transport stakeholders inspected the site, it does not have spaces for bus units particularly those with mechanical issues.

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