EXPLAINER: What is the provincial bus ban?

MANILA, Philippines – The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) wants to implement the controversial provincial bus ban, despite public outcry on the issue.

This, the MMDA said, will help ease the traffic congestion in the metropolis.

Lawmakers in the 17th Congress have filed petitions in the Supreme Court to stop it from happening, but the MMDA stood firm and said that the plan will not be shelved.

But what does the ban seek to implement?

What's it about? In March 2019, the Metro Manila Council, the governing and policy-making body of the MMDA, approved Regulation Number 19-002 that aims to close down all 47 provincial bus terminals along EDSA.

The regulation also prevents local governments from issuing business permits to bus operators who intend to set up a terminal along the main thoroughfare.

Initially, the traffic agency planned to implement the policy starting June, but the Department of Transportation has required the MMDA to submit some requirements first.

While there is no target implementation yet, the MMDA has started prohibiting buses to and from the provinces to load or unload passengers along the 23.8-kilometer highway.

The issue? Data from the MMDA recorded 367,738 vehicles passing through EDSA in 2017.

Public utility buses (PUBs) comprise only 3% of the total traffic, as private cars took up 67% of road space still.

The ban will affect 8,000 provincial buses or two-thirds of the 12,000 registered PUBs. The remaining one-third or 4,000 are city buses.

What the MMDA wants is for passengers from the provinces to use interim bus terminals, and from there, ride another city bus or jeepney to their destination.

But commuters don't have that much option. For those coming from the North, the MMDA said they can end their trips in Valenzuela City, where a government terminal's construction is yet to be completed.

For those from the South, they can either use ther terminal in Sta Rosa, Laguna or the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange which is on partial operation.

Jedd Ugay, a transport economist, told Rappler that the measure will only run counter to the goal of easing traffic congestion in Metro Manila, as the view is still "car-centric" instead of moving more people.

He said that the ban will only mean extra fares, longer travel time, and heavier traffic. 

Still a 'go'? Late May, Bicol lawmakers filed petitions before the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the policy, arguing that it is "utterly oppressive and unfair."

In his petition, Albay 2nd district Representative Joey Salceda said that the ban will only cause "great economic disruption, inconvenience, expenses and damages to multitudes of commuters to and from as far as the Visayas and the Bicol region."

He said that the ban overlooked the thousands of franchises to be issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to other modes of transportation:

But the MMDA is not backing down.

MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia said that they will still "push through with the plan," pending the decision of the High Court.

Is the provincial bus ban really the answer to the metropolis' traffic woes? – Rappler.com

Animation by Janina Malinis/Rappler

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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