The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will test a new concept of bidding out bus routes to help improve traffic flow and minimize accidents involving buses.
DOTC Secretary Emilio Abaya told reporters on Friday that the bidding of routes is “part of our bus reform program.”
Abaya said the concept, which was successfully implemented in Seoul, South Korea, will be tried out first on C-5, one of the circumferential highways in Metro Manila.
He did not say when the test will be carried out.
To be aligned are routes from Metro Manila to the provinces, routes within Metro Manila and routes that will complement Metro Manila’s elevated railway system.
In the system at present, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, an agency under the DOTC, prescribes and regulates bus routes.
Abaya said that before the bidding system is adopted, the government will first focus on changing the “boundary” system, in which drivers are given a daily quota on how much they will hand over to the bus operator at the end of their shift.
The government can subsidize specific routes to ensure that the bus leaves on schedule and the driver does not drive recklessly just to meet his quota, he added.
“As long as his bus leaves on schedule, the driver, whether his bus is full or he only has one passenger, will get paid a uniform rate. There is no longer any incentive to drive recklessly,” Abaya said. This is patterned after a program that Seoul undertook, he added.
“Dr. Kim, father of the bus reform program in Seoul, is now with us and we are carefully listening to his advice on the bus system,” Abaya said.
The plan is to set up a high-capacity bus system on C-5 as a pilot “to see how that develops. We’ll also do an experiment on Ortigas,” Abaya said, apparently referring to a business and commercial area straddling Quezon City and Pasig and Mandaluyong, all three cities in Metro Manila.
In 2013, a lawmaker filed two measures seeking to provide public utility vehicle drivers with better training and compensation.
Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada proposed the institutionalization of fixed monthly salaries and better working conditions for bus drivers to promote road safety, improve traffic flow and prevent deadly road accidents.
Abaya said he supports Estrada’s proposal.
Under Senate Bill 1372, or the “Bus Drivers and Conductors Compensation Program,” bus drivers will be paid salaries of not less than the prevailing minimum wage rate.