Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has branded as “senseless, anti-poor and ‘anti-probinsyano’” the impending ban on provincial buses and bus terminals along EDSA.
The ban, previously scheduled for April but moved to June this year, is among the Metro Manila Development Authority’s answers to the traffic chaos in the National Capital Region.
It seeks to transfer the terminals of provincial buses from Northern Luzon to Valenzuela City, and from Southern Luzon and the Visayas to a “super terminal” in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, 39 kilometers away from Manila.
Salceda said the ban will cause “great economic disruption, expenses and inconvenience to multitudes of commuters to Metro Manila from the provinces,” and shifts the burden to provincial commuters who have to pay extra fares for another transportation mode.
He noted there are 2.8 million cars in Metro Manila versus 4,000 provincial buses—2,500 from the north and 1,500 from the south.
“Who do you think actually causes the traffic problem?” Salceda asked.
“Where in the world are provincial bus stations located 38.6 kilometers from the passengers’ travel destination? This is absolutely senseless, ‘anti-probinsiyano.’ No to Sta. Rosa! No to PTIX!,” he added.
“Worldwide, public transport has priority over private vehicles. Pure common sense. Even in New York or in Tokyo, the ‘provincial bus stations’ are in the heart of the city because public transport has priority over private vehicles,” Salceda stressed.
On March 21, the MMDA’s Metro Manila Council passed Resolution 19-002, prohibiting the issuance of business permits to all public utility bus terminals and and other public utility vehicle terminals along EDSA in preparation for the transfer.
Salceda, however, said the move will not solve NCR’s traffic problems.
“Why pick on our ‘pobreng probinsyanos’ to solve Metro Manila traffic? While each bus can carry 50, each car carries only five. So if you have 3,000 buses from the provinces, you swap them for 15,000 more cars on EDSA,” he said.
“Technically, instead of one provincial bus bringing in the 50 passengers, they would now need four jeepneys to ferry 12 persons each. MMDA should have instead managed the 800,000 utility vehicles, 400,000 cars, 120,000 trucks, and 1.4 million tricycles fighting for every available space in its streets,” he added.
“Shifting the bus station to Sta. Rosa will only aggravate the situation. This will exact additional burdens on ‘probinsyanos.’ The ban is anti-poor, since most provincial commuters can only pay ordinary and aircon bus fares that are lower than P1,000, and can’t afford expensive plane fares.
“It is injurious to poor rural people in terms of additional inconvenience, costs, time and double loading,” he stressed.
Salceda also noted that many provincial passengers usually carry several pieces of heavy luggage, and they may be allocated aisle seats when Metro Manila buses pick them up in Sta. Rosa.
“It is not the number of provincial buses but the behavior of drivers in Metro Manila that cause the traffic chaos, since provincial buses get and drop passengers only in their own terminals,” he said.
The Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines has referred to the ban as a “band aid solution” to a serious ailment, the lawmaker noted.
Taking the cudgels for provincial bus commuters and operators, then-Albay Governor Salceda filed in September 201 a mandamus against the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board circular limiting South Luzon buses up to Alabang only for “lack of empirical basis with no prior notice and consultation, and imposing undue burden and inconvenience among provincial commuters.”