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Salceda seeks TRO vs bus ban

MANILA --- Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda is on the warpath and has sought a Temporary Restraining Oder (TRO) from the Supreme Court against the Metro Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) provincial buses along EDSA and transfer their stations some 39 kms away to Santa Rosa, Laguna for buses from the couth, and Valenzuela City for those from the north.

Salceda branded the MMDA move as “anti-majoritarian, anti-proletariat, anti-poor probinsiyanos and unjust.” He said the ban, supposedly aimed at easing traffic in Metro Manila, would not solve the traffic chaos “but only cause “great economic disruption, additional expenses and inconvenience, and damages to provincial commuters.

“The MMDA will ban 6,000 North- and South-bound provincial buses from plying EDSA but will in turn allow the entry of close to 20,000 assorted vehicles along the same route, among them some 14,000 new, black painted taxis, to service these provincial commuters. How then can it be called a solution to the traffic problem?,” he asked.

Salceda said the “state has to balance competing interests, but must clearly have bias for the majority (50 million balance Luzon vs 13 million NCR, or 74% of poor Filipinos from the provinces); who will instead be put at a disadvantage.

The “idiocy of the EDSA bus ban was acknowledged by MMDA Traffic Manager Bong Nebrija who said MMDA through the Metro Manila Council (MMC) formulated the ban WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC CONSULTATION last January,” he added.

The lawmaker stressed the ban would even aggravate the traffic problem instead of reducing it since the MMC was never advised that 235,000 or 72% or of the 330,000 vehicles that use EDSA daily, are cars with only the driver as lone rider, yet they chose to penalize provincial commuters using public transports which buses comprise only 2% of the total vehicles plying EDSA.

MMDA he noted will enforce its EDSA Ban on 6,000 provincial buses on June 1 and the LTFRB will cancel their franchises to enter EDSA, but will license at least 14,000 new black painted Premium Taxis (whose owner remains unknown) with a P70 flag down rate ferry more than 50,000 passengers daily from the “super terminals” in Sta. Rosa and Valenzuela, and at least 2,000 new P2P buses and thousands of UV Express vans at both stop-off points to enter EDSA.

“How then will they reduce traffic when they will add an assortment of close to 20,000 new vehicles just so they can evict 6,000 provincial buses from EDSA? Add more the Grab vehicles riders will page from both stop-off points towards EDSA and what do we have?” he asked.

Salceda pointed out that “there are 2.8 million cars in the National Capital Region, most of them plying EDSA, versus only 6,000 provincial buses. He stressed that “worldwide, public transport has priority over private vehicles, which is common sense. Even in New York City or in Tokyo, the provincial bus stations are in the heart of the city because public transport has priority over private vehicles.”

“Why pick on our ‘pobreng probinsyanos’ to solve Metro Manila traffic? While each bus can carry 50, each car carries only five at most. MMDA should have managed the 800,000 utility vehicles, 400,000 cars, 120,000 trucks and 1.4 million tricycles fighting for every available space in the streets of Metro Manila,” he pointed out.

“In the absence of the North-South Commuter Rail, I can’t imagine myself taking another ride to Sta. Rosa from my Shaw residence, on my way home to Daraha, Albay. Elderly ‘probinsiyanos’ will find that even more punishing,” he lamented, adding the ban is clearly “anti-poor, since most provincial commuter takes buses only that charge less than P1,000 since they cannot afford expensive plane fares.

For sure, “it cannot be the number of provincial buses but drivers’ behavior in Metro Manila that causes traffic chaos, since provincial buses pick up and drop passengers only in their own terminal,” he said. The transfer and opening of provincial terminals to the outskirts of Metro Manila had attempted several times but were postponed for various reasons. Ph Publisher74

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