The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said on May 10 there will be only one bus route for EDSA once enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted. Prior to ECQ, there were 61 bus routes for the avenue.
During the House Committee on Transportation virtual hearing, it was discussed that there would be less bus routes plying the roads once ECQ lifts. Including the EDSA bus route, only 29 out of the 96 bus routes in Metro Manila will be given a special franchise to operate once Metro Manila shifts to general community quarantine (GCQ).
LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra said the COVID-19 pandemic was used as an opportunity to “rationalize” land-based transport systems.
All other trips that used to pass through EDSA will have to be serviced by other dedicated bus routes.
The new “rationalized” routes put in place will be effective not only during the GCQ, but will still be effective beyond the quarantine period. This is the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) initiative to improve the country’s old public transport system.
Delgra said operators open franchises for buses and other modes of transport.
“The longer the tour, the more expected commuters the 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,” Delgra said.
House Transportation Chair Edgar Mary Sarmiento favors LTFRB’s decision.
“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 need come GCQ,” he said.
Furthermore, Sarmiento said the country’s public transport system needed changes, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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,” he added.
According to the DOTr, jeepney operations are still subject to the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Metro Manila is under ECQ until May 15. City mayors have recommended an extension of the ECQ to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Main image from Wikimedia Commons.