DOTr urged to address public transportation issues
Former Senator Nikki Coseteng has asked the Ministry of Transport to solve the problem of public transport.
Speaking to the Pandesal Forum at the Kamuning Bakery Café in Quezon City last week, Coseteng, who once chaired the Senate committee on public services that included transportation, alleged that Transportation Secretary Arturo Tugade and other officials were unaware of the repercussions of erratic transportation policies that harm the riding public.
She challenged Tugade to a bet of 2 million pesos to take daily public transport in 30 days to determine the extent and severity of public transport problems.
Coseteng said the legitimate buses that ply their provincial roads now make up only 10% of their fleet, creating a demand for illegal vehicles, which make no contribution to the government as they operate as part of the underground economy.
Transport planner Robert Siy and activist Dom Hernandez joined Coseteng in the same forum to tackle the proliferation of an unknown number of illegal vehicles called “colorums”, and called for public buses to serve the EDSA and routes between Metro Manila and provinces.
By drastically reducing the number of legitimate buses plying Metro Manila and the provinces and allowing illegal vehicles to take over bus routes and charge exorbitant fares, the public has suffered, Coseteng said.
Coseteng alleged that law enforcement stopped legitimate provincial buses along Mindanao Avenue and levied an “unfair fine of 1 million pesos per bus”. These buses are doing a legitimate business to serve the public and yet they are being forced to suffer due to the policy of forcing buses to use remote central bus stations with no facilities for passengers and drivers, she said.
Meanwhile, Hernandez, the Pasada Party List’s top candidate, said provincial buses should be allowed to cross the EDSA again to ease transportation problems.
He found an ally in Siy, who stressed the need for higher capacity vehicles and public transport on all major roads in preparation for full economic reopening. Siy is also part of the Move As One Coalition, a group of “Filipino organizations and individuals advocating for a safer, more humane, and more inclusive public transportation system in the Philippines.”
Siy called on the government to come up with policies that will encourage the public to take public transport, citing that buying and owning cars is not the solution to transport problems.
Only 5% of all households in the country have cars, while 8.5% have vehicles in Metro Manila, Siy said. The idea of using sidewalks as parking is also not acceptable, he said, as it could lead to further problems.
“A country’s progress and wealth are not determined when the poor have cars, but when the rich take buses,” Hernandez said.