POLICYMAKERS and the public had such high hopes when the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) began operations in November 2018. Due to poor planning, lack of foresight, and perhaps, even corruption, the P2.5-billion multimodal terminal risks becoming another white elephant.
The PITX was launched with much fanfare, and with the presence of no less than President Rodrigo Duterte. It was touted as a modern, airport-like terminal with electronic and online ticketing systems, capable of serving at least 100,000 passengers a day.
The goal was a clear one: to help decongest Metro Manila by removing provincial buses plying its clogged arteries. In the case of the PITX, it caters to passengers in Cavite province and nearby areas going into and out of Metro Manila.
To do this, regulators must require Cavite buses to drop off passengers and end their journey at the PITX. From the PITX, passengers then choose from a variety of options to reach their Metro Manila destinations — city bus, taxi, UV Express or jeepney.
Going to Cavite, passengers reach the PITX via Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard or Coastal Road. Aside from city buses, there are jeepneys and UV Express vehicles from the Baclaran area in Parañaque City that passengers going to the PITX can take.
We reproduce here last year’s official announcement of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) of its policy on buses coming from Cavite and its environs:
“All provincial public utility buses, UV Express service and public utility jeepneys originating from provinces southwest of Metro Manila entering via Coastal Road and Manila Cavite Expressway shall end their routes at the Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) in Coastal Road Parañaque from the date PITX is fully operational.”
Since the terminal started operations in November, however, complaints have piled up over the lack of transfer trips, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito pointed out earlier this week.
As a result, the number of passengers using the PITX has been below optimum levels. Horror stories are all over social media; one passenger from Cavite, for instance, had to walk all the way to SM Mall of Asia to get a ride.
The reason? Ejercito alleges that, contrary to the LTFRB announcement in November, not all buses have been using the PITX.
In fact, in December, the Senate public services committee found that 195 provincial buses were exempted by the LTFRB from making the PITX their endpoint, meaning, their passengers could still disembark in Metro Manila.
It’s a no-brainer — there’s no need for the PITX if provincial buses can still get into the capital, and no one will prefer to stop over at the PITX if there are not enough transfer options from there.
The LTFRB owes the public an explanation on why it exempted nearly 200 buses from the PITX. It must state the economic justifications for the decision, and why such considerations didn’t figure in the feasibility studies undertaken prior to the opening of the terminal.
As Ejercito pointed out, there must be enough shuttles to and from various business districts, such as Makati, Ortigas and Bonifacio Global City, to ensure the smooth operations of the integrated terminal. The PITX is supposed to ensure convenience for provincial passengers who have been used to going in and out of Metro Manila without transfers.
For now, using the PITX is anything but convenient. Regulators must fix the mess at the terminal, or leave a mess that’s worse than the one it had intended to fix.