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Commuters’ group to question MMDA’s bus terminal plan in Supreme Court

MANILA, Philippines — A group of commuters has expressed indignation over a government plan to relocate provincial bus terminals on the outskirts of the metropolis, warning that it will bring the case into court should the plan push through.

Elvira Medina, convenor of the National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection (NCCSP), said the plan would only be acceptable to the 14 million commuters in Metro Manila if a modern and centralized inter-city and intra-city transport system was already in place.

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“It seems that those who want this centralized traffic system implemented, lacks the proper study to back their plan. They probably did not realize the possible repercussions to commuters and traders once they put these terminals outside Metro Manila,” Medina said in a statement.

According to a survey conducted by the NCCSP with 1,270 commuter respondents last May, 91 percent expressed their opposition to the operation of three integrated bus terminals to be located outside Metro Manila.

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The first of the three hubs — the 1.4 hectare Southwest Interim Transport Terminal at the Uniwide Coastal Mall in Paranaque — will be formally opened and run by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority beginning August 6.

It is one of the three hubs ordered to be set up by President Aquino to decongest major thoroughfares in the metropolis, particularly EDSA.

The other two temporary terminals will be located near the Trinoma Mall in Quezon City for buses coming from the north, and at the Filinvest area in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, for buses also from the south.

Most of respondents in the survey said the plan of the government would only lengthen their travel time and make their daily trip more expensive.

The remaining nine percent of the respondents said the plan would ease the horrendous traffic on EDSA and other major thoroughfares.

Medina explained that since the “entire metro transport system is underdeveloped,” the plan to set up three terminals located outside the metropolis would only result in chaos.

The commuter group estimated that more than 4.5 million commuters would be affected by the bus plan, especially those from outlying provinces like Bulacan, Laguna, Batangas and Cavite.

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Commuters from these provinces will be hit hardest because they are fixed-income employees working in Quezon City, Makati and Pasig, according to Medina.

Day-time foot traffic in Metro Manila reaches 14 million and goes down to about 10.5 million at night time.

Medina lamented that proponents of the integrated bus terminals outside of Metro Manila did not even factor-in the additional expenses to be shouldered by commuters in going to these terminals.

She noted that since millions would be affected by the plan, the NCCSP would take the case to court.

Responding to criticisms, MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino said a lot of studies, the oldest done way back 1972, have showed why there was a need for a centralized bus system.

“We have studied this too much. What we should do now is to implement it,” Tolentino said.

According to Tolentino, provincial buses, which have terminals on Edsa from Aurora Boulevard to Kamuning Road occupy one lane when going in and out of their respective terminals and thus choke the traffic flow.

He noted that some buses from Cavite, on the other hand, had no permanent terminal and thus use the roads as parking lots and stations to pick up and unload passengers.

Relocating these terminals would remove choke points along EDSA and other major roads, Tolentino stressed.

On the question of more costly commute, Tolentino made an appeal to the bus operators from Cavite and Batangas to cut down the bus fares since the MMDA would allow them to use the terminal for free for six months.

“I implore the bus operators to help the commuters by reducing the fare or increasing the discount for student and senior citizens since they will be saving a lot for six months,” Tolentino said.

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TAGS: bus terminals, courts, Elvira Medina, litigation, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, National center for Commuter Safety and Protection, News, Supreme Court, traffic, Traffic management, trials
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