The past week didn’t have a shortage of confusion and drama. Last week’s biggest transportation woe was regarding the provincial bus window hours. Whether from the MMDA or the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), explanations and clarifications were disseminated online following a lot of backlash from the commuting public. The LTFRB issued yet another statement on Saturday, April 23, 2022, going so far as to say that this was all sabotage on the part of operators.
Given the information from their Regional Office in Region 3, thousands of commuters were said to have been stranded in different terminals in Pampanga. The reason? Bus operators refused to take passengers to the Araneta Center Cubao Integrated Terminal Exchange. Why? Because they were supposedly upholding the strict 10:00 PM – 5:00 AM window hour scheme that they agree on with the MMDA.
In an earlier statement, the LTFRB cleared that the said window hours were only prohibiting provincial buses from using, picking up, and dropping off passengers at their own private terminals. In no way are the window hours supposed to hinder provincial buses from transporting commuters especially since there are other Integrated Terminal Exchanges found across Metro Manila. From 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM, this is the system that provincial buses are supposed to follow. Simply put, the understanding and therefore the implementation of the window hours by the bus operators are wrong.
The government agency further added that according to LTFRB MC No. 2020-051, “authorized provincial buses whether heading to or from Region 3 should (sic) take and drop off passengers at the Araneta Bus Port via Mindanao Avenue Extension – Katipunan Avenue”. This “violation” is tantamount to willful neglect of their duty to ferry their passengers to their destinations at any time for as long as there is a need, the LTFRB added. The operators and bus companies simply lied, the agency said. And with commuters believing them, that is what led to all the online backlash.
LTFRB serves Show Cause Orders to bus operators
To further the allegations, the LTFRB has since issued Show Cause Orders to six provincial bus companies, namely: Victory Liner Inc., Genesis Transport Services Inc., Bataan Transit Bus Co., Inc., Five Star Bus Inc., First North Luzon Transit Inc., and Maria de Leon. These companies will have to send their explanations as to why their franchises should not be revoked following their orders to not dispatch their units last April 20, 2022. They have five (5) days from receipt of the Orders to hand in their response. Their hearing with the LTFRB Board is set for May 10, 2022.
It’s news like this that really begs the question: who really is to blame? “Blame” may be a very strong word, and we agree, but with all the inconveniences and hardships that the commuting public goes through, surely there is someone who must be held responsible. At the root of it all, those in seats of power, power to make good and effective changes must simply work toward the greater good, and the good of the majority. And no, those are not private vehicle owners. It’s those who get in line every day in the worst weather and climate conditions just to get to and from their destinations safely, and hopefully not look like they came from Woodstock.