Banning provincial bus terminals on EDSA puts passengers at risk: Makabayan

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 07 2019 05:16 PM

Forcing provincial-bus passengers to get off at stations that aren't along EDSA puts them at risk, says one group lobbying the MMDA to rescind such a policy. File/Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—Another petition has been filed before the Supreme Court questioning the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) ban on provincial bus terminals along EDSA.
 
Citing lack of scientific bases and “horrible” consequences on cost, convenience and safety of passengers, the Makabayan bloc on Friday filed a petition seeking to void MMDA Regulation No. 19-002, which prohibits and revokes the issuance of permits to all provincial public utility bus (PUB) terminals and operators along EDSA.
 
“Closing bus terminals along EDSA and forcing passengers, including senior citizens and persons with disability, to alight in faraway Santa Rosa, Laguna, and Valenzuela City will cause terrible consequences as to cost, convenience, and safety,” the group said in its 20-page filing.
 
“And yet, no sensitivity study was undertaken, and no genuine consultation with the affected public was conducted. And we are not even sure how many minutes less will this scheme cut from the current travel time.”
 
The Makabayan bloc was led by Bayan Muna party-list Chair Neri Colmenares and joined by Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao, Gabriela Women’s Party Reps. Emma de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers’ party-list Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, and Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago. 
 
Another petitioner, Cleto Villacorta III, is suing in his capacity as passenger.
 
The group said the MMDA exceeded its powers in issuing the provincial bus ban, because it does not have legislative nor police powers. Its own charter, the group said, limits MMDA’s powers to purely administrative functions.
 
The petition cited a previous ruling of the high court invalidating then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s similar directive to close bus terminals along EDSA.
 
It further argued the MMDA’s provincial bus ban on EDSA is not a valid police power measure because there are less intrusive measures available such as curbing “colorum” buses, stricter enforcement of traffic rules and removal of obstructions from major thoroughfares.
 
The group also said the MMDA measure is contrary to the government’s National Transportation Policy which prioritizes high capacity public mass transportation over private transport. 

They noted that MMDA’s 2015 data showed buses, with average occupancy of 44.63, only covers 40% of road share in Metro Manila compared to cars and utility vehicles which occupy 60% of the roads with only 1.7 and 5.35 passengers on the average, respectively.
 
Rather than solve traffic, the group warned the measure make it worse.
 
“While about 6,000 provincial buses will not be allowed to ferry passengers into the metropolis, an army of 20,000 premium taxis and city buses will be allowed to take their place,” it claimed.
 
“Because of the cost and inconvenience, and for those coming from the provinces, even additional danger of being dropped off in unfamiliar Sta. Rosa, Laguna and Valenzuela City, car owners coming from the north and the south could very well just take their cars to Metro Manila rather than ride the bus, practically further increasing traffic,” it added.
 
The group is asking for a preliminary injunction or a temporary restraining order from the high court.
 
The measure was initially scheduled for implementation on June 1 but MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia in late May said the agency has yet to forward requests to local government units to close down provincial bus terminals along EDSA.
 
Two other petitions have been filed seeking to stop the MMDA provincial bus ban.
 
AKO-Bicol party-list filed its petition on April 29 while Albay Rep. Joey Salceda followed suit on May 27.