MMDA sticks with window hours for provincial buses despite flak
MANILA - The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Friday is sticking with the window hours scheme for provincial buses, despite causing thousands of passengers stranded in terminals.
MMDA Chairman Romando Artes alleged that bus operators are deliberately causing "issues" so their private terminals would be opened again. He said some bus terminals were earlier ordered shut after failing to pass authorities' inspections.
Several provincial bus operators limited their operations to evenings due to the newly imposed window hour scheme but transport authorities clarified that the policy only pertains to the use of private terminals within Metro Manila.
"Consistent din naman yan sa national policy natin sa National Development Program na ang buses na papasok ng Metro Manila ay dapat sa labas lang po at sa integrated terminals lang magte-terminate," Artes explained in a public briefing.
(This is consistent with our national policy on the National Development Program which directs buses entering in Metro Manila to end their journey only in integrated terminals.)
"Mukhang sinadya ng bus operators na gipitin ang mga pasahero noong Miyerkoles na kahit alam nila na hindi na dapat gamitin yung terminals nila outside of the window hour, pinaghintay nila ang pasahero," he said.
(It seemed this was done intentionally by bus operators even if they know that their terminals cannot operate outside the window hours.)
An MMDA resolution signed March 24 directed provincial buses from the south to end their journey at Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) while those from the north should terminate at the North Luzon Express Terminal (NLET).
In late March, the agency allowed provincial buses to ply major thoroughfares in the capital region but only from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. as COVID-19 restrictions continued to ease.
Artes said they consulted with bus operators and various stakeholders on the issue.
Aside from this, the MMDA chief said they chose the window hours to prevent provincial buses from adding to the volume of vehicles in EDSA.
This was why Artes said he was puzzled when there was confusion, adding there was a "gentleman's agreement" among bus operators on the policy.
"Wala pong kalituhan dapat diyan. Sa aming palagay ay sinadya po ito para magalit ang tao sa LTFRB, MMDA, para ma-justify yung pagbubukas muli ng mga terminal sa EDSA at Manila at magamit nila ito ng buong araw even outside the window hours," he said.
(There should not be any confusion. We think that this was done intentionally so the public would be angry with the LTFRB and MMDA to justify the terminal in EDSA and Manila, so they can use these even outside the window hours.)
Outside the window hours during the daytime, provincial buses are allowed to use the following terminals:
- PITX – Quezon, Region 4-A, MIMAROPA, and Bicol
- PITX and Araneta Center Cubao - Region 4-A (Calabarzon)
- NLET – Region 1, 2, and CAR
- NLET and Araneta Center Cubao – Region 3
- SRIT – Provincial buses from Visayas and Mindanao