QC court stops orders requiring GPS in buses
A Quezon City court has suspended the implementation of two circulars issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) requiring bus operators to install a Global Positioning System (GPS) device in all their units.
Judge Marilou Runes-Tamang of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 98 on Monday issued a 20-day temporary restraining order sought by the Nagkakaisang Samahan ng mga Nangangasiwa ng Panlalawigang Bus sa Pilipinas (formerly known as the Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines or PBOAP).
Alejandro Yague Jr., executive director of PBOAP which has 41 members operating thousands of bus units, argued that the LTFRB did not conduct an extensive study and it was therefore “speculative to conclude that the use of such a device [would] be effective in curbing speed as well as preventing road accidents.”
Yague warned of a shortage of public transportation, especially during the peak summer months, as road-worthy buses without GPS units may be taken off the road. He also said a GPS unit was not an appropriate instrument to limit speed because it was primarily a location-tracking device.
The group also questioned the government’s capability to handle the volume of information in real time as this would be dependent on Internet signal quality.
No LTFRB representative attended the court hearing on Monday.
In June last year, the agency issued Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2015-21 requiring public utility buses to have a GPS to modernize transport service and promote road safety. It cited a study of the University of the Philippines-National Center for Transportation Studies which recommended speed regulation to avoid accidents caused by tailgating and miscalculation.
The LTFRB also issued MC 2015-26 which extended the registration deadline to April 30 for provincial buses entering Metro Manila; Aug. 31 for Metro Manila buses; Dec. 31 for interregional buses not entering Metro Manila; and April 30, 2017, for intraregional buses.
After the deadline, bus units will be fined P5,000 each for noncompliance and no unit shall be confirmed if it does not have a GPS device installed by LTFRB-accredited providers.
Sought for comment, LTFRB Chair Winston Ginez said they would file a motion for reconsideration in the next hearing on Friday.
According to Ginez, the Department of Science and Technology’s Advanced Science Technology Institute will handle the monitoring of the GPS project that will promote passenger safety and convenience. “In Korea, for example, it was found that the installation of GPS devices, even without any active monitoring of vehicle location or speed, reduced the incidence of road accidents of buses by 27 percent,” he said.
“If drivers believe they are being monitored, they tend to drive more carefully,” he said, adding that GPS tracking would show estimated arrival time and allow the riding public to keep track of a bus on its route through the Internet.
“GPS tracking will also enable both the LTFRB and the Department of Transportation and Communications to monitor the supply and availability of public transport in order to make better transport planning decisions,” he said.
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