The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced that there will be only one bus route for EDSA upon the easing of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Before the pandemic happened, an availability of 61 routes in total were operating for the avenue; with the new normal, it’s going to be decreased dramatically.
Adding of One Bus Route
Once the general community quarantine is effective around Metro Manila, 29 out of the 96 bus routes in the area would be allowed special franchises to continue their operations. Take note that that’s when the GCQ is effective — they’ll be under a specialized and a modified enhanced community quarantine in the coming days.
This is so there would be less buses and vehicles on the road once the enhanced community quarantine has been lifted up according to the discussion the House Committee on Transportation had during their virtual meeting.
Rationalizing Land-Based Transport
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chair Martin Delgra stated during the hearing that they decided the COVID-19 pandemic would be used as an opportunity to “rationalize” land-based transport systems for the faster turnaround of buses and other public utility vehicles.
In addition to that, he said that other dedicated bus routes would have to service all other bus routes that used to pass through EDSA instead.
For instance, they gave the example:
A commuter would have to traverse from Fairview to Makati and board a bus at Fairview and get off at EDSA. Adding to that fact would be the move to get on a bus on the EDSA route and get off at Ayala, from where he may get on another bus to reach his destination in Makati is one example of what it would look like under these new “normal” guidelines.
To be effective after the quarantine
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that these new “rationalized” routes will be in effect even not only during the general community quarantine but even beyond the quarantine period as part of the department’s initiative to improve the country’s old public transport system.
Delgra said operators open franchises for buses and various modes of transport, meaning that when these franchises are applied and issued, they are mostly from the perspective of the operators.
Adding that, he also said that there’ll be economic fundamentals in this operation.
The longer the tour, the more expected commuters they will get and therefore in terms of profit, they would be able to be assured of the economic fundamentals of their operations. That model is no longer relevant today.”
House Transportation Chair Edgar Mary Sarmiento approves of LTFRB’s decision, claiming that this was similar to his proposal of a “centralized and synchronized bus dispatch system.”
Sarmiento said that this is the perfect time to reform and improve the sector. Moreover, he will be supporting the plan but he said that it needs to be done nad executed well.
For me, it is really the right time to reform the land sector. I will be supporting you but I’m hoping that you will plan it well and execute it well. The most important here is for the public to have the transportation system that we need come GCQ.”
Improvements and developments in the system
Sarmiento even pointed out that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the country needed improvements/changes in the public transport system. He adds that what we have known for the past decades would no longer be in effect.
Part of that is having to improve the efficiency of our public transport system. What has happened in the last 30 or 40 years, the model of bus franchises is no longer relevant today and we have been saying that even at the start of the administration.”
How about jeepney operations?
Other than the one bus route in EDSA, how would the jeepney operations be? As per hearings, it will still be under observation; and up to the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), added by the Department of Transportation.
City mayors have recommended to extend the enhanced community quarantine long past May 15 to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 cases; which will be deadlier and worse.
But overall, what do you think about the one bus route during the modified enhanced community quarantine? Could this action really help in the improvement of the country’s overall transportation system?