No public consultations on Edsa provincial bus ban, MMDA exec admits
MANILA, Philippines — The riding public was not consulted before the dry run on the provincial bus ban was enforced along Edsa, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) traffic chief Edison “Bong” Nebrija admitted Monday, as he also confirmed that provincial buses are just 5 percent of vehicles plying the major thoroughfare.
While Nebrija said they did not conduct “public consultations that everybody wanted,” he said he knew the clamor of commuters riding provincial buses.
“I am there, I see these things… Naririnig ko po ‘yung hinaing nila. But I’m telling them, give this a chance because this is for you,” he said at a House hearing, noting that this could be the solution towards a “progressive metropolis.”
It was Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines (PBOAP) executive director Alex Yague who pointed out that bus operators were consulted on the policy but commuters were not.
“Napakalaking inconvenience po sa pasahero kasi nagdodoble ang sakay at longer travel time po,” Yague said, as he also urged MMDA to suspend its policy barring loading and unloading along Edsa.
Ako Bicol Rep. Alfred Garbin Jr., whose party-list earlier asked the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the provincial bus ban on Edsa, meanwhile asked why the traffic management agency focused on regulating provincial buses which are just 5 percent of the total number of vehicles plying Edsa.
“Bakit ho natin pag-iinitan ‘yung 5 percent na dumarating ho ng maaga sa Edsa?… Baka dun ho tayo [dapat] mag-focus sa 95 percent,” Garbin said.
Nebrija answered: “I agree 5 percent lang po ang provincial buses, pero hindi po namin sila pinag-iinitan.”
The MMDA official said Edsa was “not designed” to accommodate the 47 “illegal” bus terminals operating along it, as passengers coming from provinces usually have baggage that would take long to unload.
But Garbin argued that commuters getting off at the constructed two integrated terminals in Santa Rosa, Laguna for those coming from the south, and Valenzuela City for those from the north, would end up riding another bus or taxi going to Edsa.
“You’ll just transfer the traffic and confusion elsewhere and at the end of the day it will end up in Edsa,” he said.
The lawmaker also said commuters have spent higher fare when the ban was imposed. He added that the travel and waiting time of commuters became longer.
The dry run of MMDA Resolution No. 19-2 which asks local governments to revoke or stop the issuance of business permits to provincial bus terminals on Edsa started on April 23, according to Nebrija. The MMDA suspended it on May 6.
At that time, Nebrija also admitted that the policy still needs further review and studies.
Nebrija said they had launched the dry run to test the efficiency of the two integrated terminals but they “did not get the numbers that [they] want” because almost no bus used them.
House transportation chair Cesar Sarmiento said inclusive public hearings with bus operators and commuters, as well as vital data, are needed before the policy’s implementation.
Meanwhile, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza and Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel said the policy should be given a chance.
“We have to have a solution otherwise we will all stagnate into a severe economic condition,” Atienza said. (Editor: Julie Espinosa)
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