Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda is on the warpath against the move by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to ban provincial buses along EDSA and transfer their stations some 39 kms away to Santa Rosa, Laguna, which he branded as “anti-majoritarian and anti-proletarian”.
Salceda on Monday (May 27) has sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court against the transfer, saying it is not the right solution to the traffic problem of Metro Manila and instead, would only cause “great economic disruption, inconvenience, expenses and damages to multitudes of commuters to and from as far as the Visayas and the Bicol region”.
The lawmaker said the ban is unjust because it shifts the burden of inconvenience to provincial commuters, particularly students and traders and ordinary families with relatives in Metro Manila who will have to transfer to another mode of transport and shell out extra fares.
“The MMDA will ban 6,000 northbound and southbound provincial buses from plying EDSA but will in turn, allow the entry of close to 20,000 assorted vehicles along the same route, among them some 14,000 new, black painted taxis, to service these provincial commuters. How then can it be called a solution to the traffic problem?” he said.
The MMDA is set to implement the ban June 1, which it said will solve the traffic problems in Metro Manila, particularly EDSA. “Super terminals” will be opened in Santa Rosa, Laguna and in Valenzuela, Bulacan, for vehicles servicing South-bound and North-bound commuters, respectively.
Salceda said the “state has to balance competing interests for national importance but must clearly have bias for the majority (50 million balance Luzon vs 13 million NCR) and the disadvantaged (74% of poor are in the provinces),” he added.
He said the “idiocy of the EDSA Provincial Bus Ban emanates from the acknowledgement of MMDA Traffic Manager Bong Nebrija that the MMDA thru the Metro Manila Council (MMC) formulated the EDSA Bus Ban WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC CONSULTATION in January 2019”.
The lawmaker stressed several points on how the ban would even aggravate the traffic problem instead of reducing it:
1) The MMC was never advised that 72% (235,000 cars) of the 330,000 vehicles that use EDSA daily, were cars that had only the driver as the lone rider, yet the MMC/MMDA chose to penalize the riding public using public transports from the provinces which buses comprise only 2% of the total vehicles plying EDSA;
2) The MMDA will enforce EDSA Ban on 6,000 provincial buses on June 1 and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board will cancel all their franchises to enter EDSA but, to facilitate the transport of more than 50,000 passengers daily from the stop-off points (Sta. Rosa, Laguna from the South and Valenzuela City, Bulacan from the North), the MMDA has recommended the licensing of at least 14,000 new black painted Premium Taxis (the owners of which we don’t know), which will have a flag-down rate of at least P70, and;
3) Add at least 2,000 new P2P Buses at both stop off points to enter EDSA and untold thousands of new UV Express vans also to and from both stop off points.
“How then will they reduce traffic when they will add an assortment of close to 20,000 new vehicles just so they can evict 6,000 provincial buses from EDSA? Add the Grab vehicles who will be paged by loyal riders to and from both stop off points towards EDSA and what do we have?” he pointed out.
“There are 2.8 million cars in the National Capital Region plying EDSA versus only 6,000 provincial buses, sino kaya nagpapa-traffic (who do you think is actually causing traffic)?”, said Salceda.
“Sa buong mundo saan ka nakakita na ang provincial bus station patungo Metro Area ay 38.6 kilometers away? Napaka anti-probinsyano. No to Sta. Rosa! No to PITX!” Salceda posted in his social media account, referring to the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange or PITX, the proposed ‘super terminal’ of all buses from Southern Luzon and the Visayas.
“Worldwide”, Salceda said; “public transport has priority over private vehicles, which is pure common sense. Even in New York City or in Tokyo, the provincial bus stations are in the heart of the city because public transport has priority over private vehicles,” the lawmaker said. “Why pick on our poring probinsyanos to solve Metro Manila traffic? While each bus can carry 50, each car carries only five”, said Salceda.
Salceda said the MMDA should have managed the 800,000 utility vehicles, 400,000 cars, 120,000 trucks and 1.4 million tricycles fighting for every available space in the streets of Metro Manila.
Passengers going to Metro Manila will still have to go to NCR anyway for so many existential reasons. So shifting the bus station to Sta. Rosa will only aggravate the problem in the absence of North-South Commuter Rail which will exact additional burdens on probinsyanos. “Di ko ma-imagine, na kung uuwi ako ng Daraga (Albay) galing sa bahay ko sa Shaw ay magbabyahe pa ako papunta ng Sta. Rosa?”
Salceda said the ban is anti-poor, since most provincial bus passengers are those who can only pay the ordinary and aircon lower than the P1,000 amount, and cannot afford the more expensive plane fares. This measure is injurious to poor rural people in terms of: (1) additional inconvenience; (2) additional “minimum” fare; (3) additional time to destination; and (4) double loading.
Added to this, many provincial passengers usually carry several and heavy luggage. Albayano traders and commuters, especially those who cannot afford more expensive air transportation, are being deprived of their mobility, he said.
Salceda said, “It cannot be the number of provincial buses but their behavior in Metro Manila specifically in EDSA; Provincial buses get and drop passengers only in their own terminal, so it must be their exit and entry into these terminals,” he said.
The transfer and opening of the terminal in the outskirts of Metro Manila was attempted several times in the past but were postponed due to lack of coordination among provincial commuters.
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