MANILA, Philippines - The worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila can be attributed to too many public utility vehicles (PUVs) in the metropolis, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chair Winston Ginez said in a roundtable discussion with STAR editors and reporters Wednesday night.
He said the traffic gridlocks are caused by among other factors, the volume of city buses being more than double what EDSA can accommodate, provincial jeepneys invading the metropolis and the actual volume of trucks-for-hire being thrice the number of those that have franchises.
Ginez said this has been the situation for decades that now needs to be addressed with modernization policies, including the eventual phaseout of old vehicles and the rationalization of bus routes.
He cited that at present, some 3,500 city buses – all of them with franchises – ply EDSA everyday.
But according to studies, EDSA can only accommodate 1,600, Ginez said.
Adding to this is the problem of out-of-line provincial buses, whose operators assign certain units to other existing franchise routes without approval of the board.
At present, the board is spearheading the rationalization of provincial buses, a move that recently drew flak from Metro Manila mayors and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
The board will now study the applications, the deadline for filing of which is today, before deciding whether to allow them.
According to Ginez, there are now around 60,000 public utility jeepneys in Metro Manila. He said these are not colorum jeepneys, as they have certificates of public convenience or franchises.
However, a number of these are not Metro Manila jeepneys and hold franchises issued in the provinces.
While these could not be considered colorum operations, these provincial jeepneys in Metro Manila fall under the so-called “out-of-line” vehicles.
“These are holders of franchises issued in other regions (outside Metro Manila) but the units have been brought here in the Metro,” Ginez said.
According to Ginez, this problem will be addressed with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) license plate standardization project, which is being implemented. Under the program, the yellow plates issued to public utility vehicles, including jeepneys, would include not just the plate number but also the region where the plates were issued.
Trucks for hire
Another issue that caused the board to draw flak is when the LTFRB gave trucks-for-hire more time to apply for franchises and temporarily exempted them from apprehension, the fines for which have increased under the new rules issued by the LTFRB and the LTO.
Metro Manila mayors and the MMDA accused the LTFRB’s move of supposedly having caused traffic situation in the metropolis to worsen.
According to Ginez, there were 11,000 authorized trucks-for-hire before the joint administrative order imposing higher fines for violations, including colorum operation, was issued.
But Ginez said there were trucks other than these 11,000 vehicles that were being rented out by their operators, and thus, should have been carrying yellow plates and the subject of franchises.
With the leeway issued by the board, some 32,000 more trucks have applied from June 16 to Aug. 8.
The board has until Oct. 17 to resolve these applications for franchises, as the provisional authority given to these trucks would no longer be honored by then.