Solon joins calls to junk provincial bus ban on EDSA

A BICOL House leader has joined mounting calls for the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to junk its controversial plan to ban provincial buses from traversing EDSA.

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said the plan would prove detrimental primarily to the welfare of commuters and small entrepreneurs who would have to cough up more money for their transport fares should provincial bus terminals and buses be taken out of the national capital’s main thoroughfare.

Transferring from a provincial bus at terminals set by the MMDA to another public utility vehicle would prove too cumbersome, costly and time-consuming for passengers who usually carry with them heavy pieces of luggage when traveling to Metro Manila and back to their provinces, said Villafuerte.

“I support the petition for review and prohibition filed by my fellow probinsiyano and Bicolano, Albay Representative Joey Salceda before the Supreme Court that seeks to stop the implementation of the provincial bus ban on EDSA,” Villafuerte said. “I also have tens of thousands of fellow Bicolanos in our province who will be adversely affected by this proposed ban.”

Villafuerte issued the statement following reports that the MMDA was standing pat on its decision to ban provincial buses and close 46 bus terminals along EDSA despite the calls and judicial petitions filed by lawmakers before the high court to nullify what he described as the agency’s “anti-poor and anti-small business” policy.

He said small entrepreneurs who rely on provincial buses to transport their goods to Metro Manila will suffer and if given no choice, would be forced to ride more expensive travel options such as taxicabs or Grab cars to be able to pass through EDSA to reach their final destinations.

Villafuerte agreed with Salceda that the MMDA will overstep its legal authority and disregard the franchises issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to affected provincial buses and the lease agreements between bus operators and terminal owners, once MMDA finally implements this ban in June despite strident public opposition.

According to reports, there are currently 12,000 passenger buses in Metro Manila, of which 8,000 are provincial buses and 4,000 are city buses.

The Metro Manila Council, the MMDA’s policy making body and governing board, signed and approved regulation No. 19-002 prohibiting the issuance of business permits to public utility vehicle terminals and operations along Edsa.

Based on this new policy, provincial buses coming from the South Luzon Expressway, especially those from Batangas and Laguna, are to pass through the terminal in Sta. Rosa City in Laguna, while those coming from the North Luzon Expressway will be directed to use the terminal in Valenzuela City, thus barring them from entering EDSA.