NIPPING in the bud any legal move asserting the franchise of public utility buses to go through their full routes, the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) cancelled such right, including those for some 1,000 buses plying from Manila to outlying provinces.
Unaffected by howls of complaint from students and low-income commuters affected by the bus ban, Manila went full force in implementing the ban which dovetails with a so-called Integrated Transport System (ITS) project of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said that all Metro Manila-bound buses will be diverted to their final destination in at the Southwest Integrated Bus Terminal in Uniwide Coastal Mall in Parañaque City.
Last week Cavite Vice Governor Jolo Revilla begged the MMDA to defer for 60 days the ITS project. MMDA went on with the ITS scheme—which has meant greater expenses in travel time and fare money for students and low-income commuters.
Tolentino has assured the Cavite Bus Operators Association that the bus terminal has no fee, safe for commuters, weeds out non-franchise colorum buses, and lesser pollution.
Once, commuters shelled out P25 fare from Imus Cavite to Coastal Road and Baclaran and P33 up to Plaza Lawton, Manila. With the bus ban in place, commuters have to cough up an additional P10 to P15 fare to get to Plaza Lawton.
Tolentino argued that he begged LTFRB to slash the minimum bus fare by P8, which the LTFRB has yet to decide by August 23.
However, the Cavite Bus Operators Association reasoned that the reduced fares would affect their boundary system and lower their earnings because of high cost of fuel and spare parts. They said they appeal the decision of the LTFRB if the fare reduction is approved.
Meanwhile, the opening of the Southwest Interim Transport Terminal (SITT) in Parañaque City was not smooth-sailing at all as it was marred by complaints from affected commuters.
Passengers’ main complaint was the inconvenience brought by the scheme, which they also described as “time-consuming.”
They particularly complained that they have to disembark at the integrated bus terminal and then transfer to another vehicle just to get to their respective destinations within Metro Manila.
Those who wish to take Epi-fanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) will have to transfer to city buses outside the Coastal Mall, while those who are Manila-bound may take an AUV Express.
Besides this, passengers were also confused on the route being taken by the buses as some of them are not yet familiar about it.
Some passengers also complained that there was no covered walkway yet from the terminal area for the provincial buses to the waiting area for the city buses.
The Southwest ITT, which is being managed by the MMDA, serves as the hub for buses coming from Batangas and Cavite.
Bus operator, Nes Martinez said it was their drivers that are taking the brunt of the passenger’s ire when they were told that their buses will no longer go beyond the terminal.
Martinez is the operator of the Starliner transport with 35 units plying the Dasmarinas-Lawton route.
But Tolentino said that they are expecting such complaints and problems since it is the first day of the facility’s operations.
He expressed confidence that the agency would address such problems in the coming days.
Tolentino also appealed to passengers to make some minor financial sacrifices now saying that eventually they would see the benefits of the new transport facility.
He said they are coordinating closely with all stakeholders—the bus operators, local officials and other government agencies such as the LTFRB to ensure that all these problems will be ironed out eventually.
Tolentino also said that the LTFRB is set to hear on August 23 the MMDA’s petition for a P2 fare reduction for bus passengers from Cavite and Batangas.
The 1.4-hectare facility is meant to ease traffic congestion by banning Cavite and Ba-tangas-bound buses from plying the metropolis’ roadways, particularly along EDSA.