I highly applaud the firm and justifiable decision of the Land Transportation Franchise Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to suspend all franchises of the Don Mariano bus group that was responsible for the horrific accident in the Skyway just before Christmas. The irresponsibility, neglect and absolute callousness of transportation companies or rather, people who own and run them, must be sanctioned. Rules must be implemented, infractions must be punished and that is that. Too many lives have been lost; too many of the public maimed by these irresponsible so-called public carriers.
The Don Mariano group, which has figured in several accidents and has been found to be cutting corners regarding its fleet of buses, should get out of the transport business but not without compensating their victims. As it is they are haggling over the price of lives lost and hospitalization expenses. That kind of behavior all the more justifies their expulsion from the business of transportation of the public.
Meanwhile, it is to be expected that LTFRB should be more vigilant. It should higher standards in the industry like not allowing derelict vehicles from other countries to be imported for public transportation. As well, it should make transportation companies retire vehicles that reach 10 years of age. It is not acceptable to excuse the use of substandard, old, dangerous vehicles because we are a poor country. We deserve better no matter what. People in the transport business should make a profit but not at the expense of the public.
Drivers must also pass certain safety standards and have good records before they are given a license for public transport. There is much to be done in this area that LTFRB has not accomplished for years now.
Boundary scheme is servitude
Good management, efficient practices, decent treatment of their personnel particularly drivers and mechanics should be the rule. Making drivers meet a boundary before they earn a wage is servitude under the contemporary circumstances of dreadful traffic conditions where time is wasted and trips take longer than necessary for the distance they travel.
LTFRB should not confine itself to the capital but put more attention to certain areas where public transport accidents are rife. I am thinking of the mountainous areas of Luzon and the province of Cebu. The former because of frequent vehicles overloaded with passengers and produce falling off cliffs and into ravines. The latter for the demonic driving behavior of bus drivers resulting in terrible mishaps. Both these areas are responsible for large loss of life in traffic accidents that could well be avoided if LTFRB was on the job.
Another area that LTFRB should look into is the giving out of taxi franchises like hotcakes particularly for taxis. Baguio City is overloaded with taxis coming from the La Union LTFRB that seems to have given them to make an overcapacity in the city with taxi drivers hardly making a living with too much competition.
LTFRB is also in charge of towing companies. Many towing companies are predatory that LTFRB should expel from the ranks. They are usually owned by ex-policemen or former military personnel who use their ex-positions in some form or other (mostly unethically) to tow vehicles to the farthest points all the better to charge higher fees. They are shadowy because when one reaches the lot where their office is to redeem the car, there are only gofers and other clueless helpers around purporting to know nothing including who owns the towing company.
LTFRB has much ground to cover and should shape up to serve the needs for modern, safe, efficient public transportation.