Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero slammed the proposal of presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II to terminate all existing bus franchises in Metro Manila, calling it a “knee-jerk” solution to traffic woes in the metropolis.
Escudero warned that the solution offered by the Liberal Party standard-bearer was not only “anti-business” but also “anti-poor” because it will negatively affect the riding public who depends on buses in the absence of an efficient rail transport system.
“We should be careful not to rush to knee-jerk solutions that would only exacerbate the situation in Metro Manila’s three major rail transit systems, especially the problematic Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3),” Escudero pointed out.
“If you remove all buses plying EDSA and other major thoroughfares, what is the alternative? That proposal is detrimental to the welfare of the riding public,” he added.
According to Escudero, Roxas’ suggestion could “introduce a lot of attendant risks that can make matters worse.”
“Dapat din siguro na isaalang-alang ang kapakanan ng mga taong umaasa sa industriya ng bus para sa kanilang kabuhayan. Tatanggalan ng panukala ng kabuhayan ang mga operator pati rin ang libo-libong drayber, kunduktor at ibang empleyado na umaasa sa industriya,” said Escudero, who is the frontrunner in various vice presidential preference surveys.
Instead of total cancellation, Escudero said the government, particularly the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), should conduct a no-nonsense review and cleansing of all existing bus franchises.
“Dapat rebisahin ang lahat ng mga bus franchise at tukuyin ‘yung mga sabit sa ‘kabit system’ kung saan ‘yung mga walang prangkisa ay nakikihiram o ride-along dun sa may prangkisa,” Escudero said.
“I-review din dapat ‘yung special franchise na ini-issue at ginagamit ng ibang bus company para makapag-biyahe lalo na tuwing holiday. Kailangan lang magtrabaho ng maige ang LTFRB.”
Had Roxas ordered a review and cleansing of all LTFRB-issued franchises when he was Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Escudero said there would have been no colorum or illegal buses that contribute to the worsening traffic in Metro Manila.
“Kung ang paglinis ng mga prangkisa at pagtanggal ng lahat ng colorum buses ang unang inatupag ni Mar nung nasa DOTC sya, e di sana kahit paano nabawasan ang traffic sa EDSA at iba pang mahahalagang lansangan sa Kalakhang Maynila,” Escudero said.
Roxas earlier said he intends to solve the worsening traffic by decongesting Metro Manila’s main thoroughfares and streamlining the system of bus franchises.
“One of the things that we will be doing is to terminate all of these various franchises along major thoroughfares in [Metro Manila],” Roxas was quoted as saying.
According to Escudero, the problem, however, requires long-term sustainable solutions like prioritizing an expanded and improved public transport system.
The veteran lawmaker said traffic congestion in the nation’s capital region would have been “less worse” if there was an efficient and reliable mass transport system like commuter rails, which are a good alternative to private vehicles.
He said the MRT-3, which traverses the traffic-infested EDSA, “is definitely not a good alternative mode of transportation at this point” because of all the problems confronting it.
“With all the technical glitches, long lines and other problems hounding the MRT-3, how can you expect everyone to rely on this public transport system?” Escudero said.