AS part of the “new normal,” the chairman of the House Committee on Transportation on Sunday announced that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will rationalize the land-based transport system for Metro Manila by removing overlapping routes in the country’s capital.
Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, the panel chairman, said out of the “topsy-turvy” 96 bus routes in Metro Manila, including those traversing Edsa, only 29 bus routes will be given a special franchise and each will all be dedicated and non-overlapping routes.
Also, Sarmiento, in a statement, said from 61 Edsa bus routes, the LTFRB will now only provide a single route dedicated to Edsa if and when the National Capital Region finally transitions from enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to general community quarantine (GCQ).
During the virtual committee hearing of the committee last Saturday, LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra said the board decided to seize the opportunity to rationalize all land-based transport system and shorten routes to allow faster turnaround of buses and other forms of public-utility vehicles.
Delgra told the panel that these newly “rationalized” routes will replace the old routes not only during the GCQ period but also “beyond GCQ.”
“The public transport system, and I’m referring to the land-based public transport system, is in dire need of reform, even pre-Covid scenario. 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 this administration,” Delgra told the committee.
“It is operator-initiated and therefore, when franchises were applied and issued, it was mostly from the perspective of the operators. The longer the route, the more expected commuters they will get and therefore in terms of profit, they would be able to be assured of the economic fundamentals of their operation. That model is no longer relevant today,” Delgra told the committee.
Delgra said that the LTFRB will implement a new bus route system in time for Metro Manila’s transition to GCQ, but this would still be in effect even when the pandemic is finally over.
Delgra said that the single Edsa bus route will only be dedicated to Edsa and all other trips that were previously served by buses that also traverse through Edsa will have to be served by separate and dedicated bus routes.
Sarmiento said the House will support the LTFRB move, which he described as identical with his proposed “centralized and synchronized bus dispatch system” which he hopes would permanently solve Metro Manila traffic woes.
“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 they need come GCQ,” Sarmiento said.
Earlier, Sarmiento called on DOTr to conduct a dry run at least two days before May 15, which is supposed to be the end of the ECQ, especially for land transport, so that the system can be fully evaluated and tweaked before the actual lifting of the public transport ban.