THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Tuesday formally opened the main terminal for Cavite- and Batangas-bound public utility buses (PUBs) located at the Uniwide reclamation area in Parañaque City.
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino led the opening of the P24-million, 1.4-hectare Southwest Interim Transport Terminal (SITT) which will be used by the bus companies without any terminal fee.
Tolentino said the terminal could accommodate 955 passenger buses and 326 other utility vehicles to ferry commuters to other points of the metropolis.
He added the terminal would be the final stop for the buses coming from Cavite and Batangas and would be prohibited to proceed further into Metro Manila.
Passengers from Southern Luzon are to get another ride to Metro Manila via city buses at the terminal.
Porters were present to help passengers with their luggage at the terminal, which also featured an air-conditioned waiting area and a chapel.
“Three shifts, 24/7 on duty ang mga personnel natin at nais ko lang i-remind ang mga bus operators, wala ho kayong babayaran na terminal fee dito [Personnel will be assigned to cover three shifts and will be on a 24/7 duty. Bus operators are also reminded that there is no terminal fee],” Tolentino added.
Meanwhile, several passengers and bus drivers complained about the delays and hassles brought about the shortened trip due to the opening of the terminal as compared when Cavite and Batangas-bound buses were allowed to ply the highways.
Passengers also complained of the lack of covered walkway from the terminal area to the waiting area for the city buses.
Tolentino said such problems are expected since it was the first day of the facility’s opening but he added that the MMDA was confident it would be addressed in the coming days.
At the same time, the MMDA chief said they are coordinating closely with all stakeholders—the bus operators, local officials and other government agencies such as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to ensure that all these minor kinks will be ironed out eventually.
Tolentino said with the SITT now operational, the MMDA expects traffic congestion along the roadways especially along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) to ease.
A total of 12,798 buses use Metro Manila’s’ roadways every day, and 8,200 are provincial buses.
Tolentino said once the number of buses in Edsa decreases, travel speed would improve resulting to reduced air pollution level.
The MMDA said 15 kilometers per hour is the average speed along Edsa which is used by about 325,000 public and private vehicles on a daily basis.
For his part, LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez, who was also present during the opening ceremony, echoed Tolentino’s statement and said the integrated terminal is a realization of President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s dream and vision of a traffic-free Metro Manila.
At the same time, he said the LTFRB is also willing to hear the side of the MMDA and the bus operators on the fare reduction petition during the hearing set on August 23.
Earlier, Tolentino filed a petition before the LFTRB to reduce the fares of buses coming from Cavite and Batangas.
The SITT is the first of three centralized provincial bus terminals set to be constructed on the fringes of Metro Manila by the end of the year.
The other two terminals will be built and operated by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) near the TriNoMa Mall in Quezon City for buses coming from the north, and at the Filinvest area in Alabang for buses coming from the south. PNA