MANILA – Saying majority of commuters take buses, Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Monday proposed to field additional passenger buses along the already congested Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, or EDSA.
”The number of buses along EDSA is still inadequate,” LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez told the Senate inquiry into the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila, particularly the 23-kilometter EDSA.
”If you will notice, there are a lot of commuters who almost occupied big part of EDSA while waiting for buses. So I think we should add more buses during rush hour,” he added.
Ginez said almost 80 percent of the commuting public used public transport, including buses, to reach their destination while the remaining 20 percent were aboard private vehicles which occupy big part of EDSA.
The LTFRB chief has even suggested the lifting of the number coding on EDSA to allow more passenger buses to serve computing public during rush hours.
Ginez’s suggestion surprised Senator Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino IV but for Senator Joseph Victor ‘JV’ Ejercito, it was a welcome suggestion to help the commuting public during rush hour.
”Actually, I was surprised by his suggestion to add more buses along EDSA. I think we should discuss it more deeply because the common understanding is to even reduce the number of buses,” Aquino said.
Ejercito, on other hand, agreed with Ginez that commuters are having difficulties due to lack of available passenger buses.
”We can try (this suggestion). Perhaps we can give at least a month to see if this will be effective. This is a short term solution that may help,” Ejercito said.
Both Aquino and Ejercito, however, agreed that the long term solution to the congested major thoroughfares in Metro Manila is to construct more infrastructures.
”We have learned that there are infra projects that have been planned five years ago but still not being implemented. The different agencies should talk about it immediately,” Ejercito said.
Ejercito was referring to the ‘dream plan’ to construct major provincial bus terminals such as South, South-West and North.
Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) representative Undersecretary Corazon Jimenez blamed the delay for the construction of the bus terminals to “lack of location”.
At present, Ginez said there were 2,500 passengers of city buses moving around EDSA.
”Perhaps additional 1,500 buses can help,” Ginez said.
Ejercito, meanwhile, said the call for resignation of MMDA chairman Francis Tolention was not the solution to the traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
”It is not only the problem of MMDA. It is a complex problem that we want to find solution,” Ejercito said.
Ejercito said the high patrol group (HPG) was just a band aid solution, asking the public to give it a chance.
”Perhaps we should have discipline. The main problem is our infrastructure,” he said.
Ejercito, chairman of the Senate committee on economic affairs joint with public works, has expressed dismay over failure of the government agency heads to attend and explain the traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
”I’m really disappointed that they did not come. We’re not just playing around here. This is a serious problem that requires serious solution by all the concerned government officials,” he said.
Ejercito invited the Secretaries of the departments of Transportation and Communication, Pulbic Works and Highways, Finance, Interior and Local Government, the Director Genral of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the Chairman of Metro Manila Develoipment Authority (MMDA), and Secretary Jose Rene Almendras who is currently the Transportation Czar, but all failed to show up in the hearing.
Ejercito said the government officials should focus more on the worsening traffic situation and its economic impact, which costs Php2.4 billion losses daily, according to a recent study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Ejercito expects to see the head of agencies in the next hearing, which is set on Sept. 14, 2015.