Is the LTFRB angry with Digong?

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You have two million Filipinos going in and out of Metro Manila, every single day. You have an underdeveloped public transport infrastructure that screams “overcapacitated.” You have Light Train services that can only accommodate at most 650,000 commuters. While your public transport buses, all 14,000 of them, nearly half a million. Combined, you have at least 1.2 million safely being serviced by just two (2) modes of public transport. One asks— where are the rest of the two million? They use whatever they want–they have their own sedans, they call Grab or they bicycle their way to their destinations, etal.

That, my friend, is the situation of the Philippines before March 15–when the government implemented the Enhanced Community Quarantine. Do you think things will change after May 15–when government now lifts the ECQ over certain areas and allow several firms to re-ignite their operations?

Maybe it’s different because some people would have lost their jobs. BY and large, it will not. Government will face the same old problem which the Duterte administration considered as one of its priority issue areas–public transportation. Traffic is the result or consequence of a maldeveloped public transport system. Many people would probably argue with me and ask me why do I call this monster a system? Well, public transport is basically a system and depending on one’s perspective, it is either an effective or defective one. With our humongous traffic problem, you guessed what’s on my mind–its a defective system or more accurately, an unresponsive one.

Our system has stayed this way for quite a long time because no one in government want to create a system that will work for a very, very long time. That’s the difference between those we see abroad and those which we see here, in the Philippines. When it comes to public infrastructure, government agrees on building us systems that only last 3-4 years. Why? It is basically rational because if they do give us structures that last twenty years, they don’t have anymore to fix or to bid projects for. And when we do get a sturdy system, some smart aleck of a politician would think of someways to earn from it.

Traffic remains like this because our leaders do not want it solved immediately. They need to justify funding for longer and more expansive roads, more underground tunnels, more traffic rules to justify more fines and imposition of penalties, etal. Not only do they earn from this, they got to flex and show their political muscles.

It’s the same thing with public transportation. Regulatory agencies such as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board or LTFRB should find or think of something to do to show everybody that they are doing their jobs and people must kowtow to them.

What do you think would happen if LTFRB implements its plan of cutting down bus routes from the present 96 routes to a mere 29? Obviously, you’ll disfranchise several hundreds of thousands more commuters of the right to avail of bus services.  By my estimate, if one bus has the maximum capacity of 50 people and based on the LTFRB decision, that would mean only 4,200 buses are to be allowed to use metro roads, that translates only to 200,000 plus commuters, leaving more than 300,000 plus commuters without bus services.

Atty Agra, you’re making a big, big mistake!

The Board wants to justify this decision by saying that they just want to consolidate bus services and encourage these small and medium size bus firms to integrate themselves and incorporatize.

That sounds like a pretty good idea but at best, ill-timed and ill-advised. The LTFRB comes at the time when the economy is in the doldrums and there is this COVID-19 running amuck, invisibly, that is. You have people worrying about the future and here you are proposing to cut bus routes?

Our problem right now is an overburdened public transport system and here you are LTFRB board, deciding to cut services of public transport buses and leaving more than 300,000 commuters out there in the cold? Whoa. Galit ba kayo ke Digong?

Surely, someone would try to defend the LTFRB and say that the Board wants to do this to cut traffic in metro roads. How the hell would that be true, when buses account for just 3% of total volume of vehicles in metro roads? I can understand if these buses eat up 50% or even 5%– but three percent? Some fella sitting at that Board probably thought that this plan would easily show who’s boss here.

And it is not just the commuting sector that will suffer–owners of small and medium-sized enterprises, traders of veggies and other food stuffs would suffer as well. Meaning, the food supply chain will be disrupted.

The LTFRB should re-consider. Otherwise, we are headed for a very complicated disaster.

 

 

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