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Fil C. Sionil

Fil C. Sionil

It’s the time of the year when one can clearly see the road ahead with nary a vehicle in sight. If there are, very few. Hence going around the metropolis is such a breeze.

With the spiraling rise in the pump prices of petroleum products, some have chosen what the millennials call “staycation” staying in a nearby hotel, enjoying the amenities without the hassle of slugging it out with other motorists going on a road trip. Or just staying at home, enjoying the serenity of the environs, while meditating on the meaning of the sacrifices of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many took the opportunity as early as Monday to go on a vacation either in their provinces or go on a regional travel.

But, as early as tomorrow, some will be trekking back to the metropolis.
For commuters – those taking the public transport – they may soon have an exasperating journey, particularly on Sunday as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will be conducting a dry run on its plan to stop provincial buses from plying the main thoroughfare of EDSA.

On April 21 provincial buses will be prohibited from loading and unloading their passengers anywhere in EDSA. Provincial buses may only do so at their terminals in the metropolis.

Compliance with this Scheme 1 poses no problem for bus operators with terminals. But many for passengers, it is a different matter altogether, with some getting off at different stop stations along EDSA to catch their nearest ride home. To be affected are those going on a daily commute working in Makati or Pasay and living in nearby provinces such as Bulacan and Laguna.

Passengers may have to pay less for their bus fare-roughly around P25-but have to shell out an additional P53 to get to their point of place, according to Marivic del Pilar, whose family operates Victory Liner and former president of the Provincial Buses Operators of the Philippines.

Scheme 2 is tentatively scheduled for a dry run on May 25. Under this order, provincial buses are encouraged to load and unload in Valenzuela terminal for the north and at the Sta. Rosa common terminal for the south. Buses are not permitted to load and unload in EDSA and cannot load and unload at their terminals. However, empty buses are allowed to return to their terminals, after unloading in Valenzuela and Sta. Rosa. The EDSA terminals will remain open only as garages and as sleeping quarters for the bus crews.

A number of legislators as early as a couple of months ago expressed opposition following the MMDA announcement of its plan to decongest EDSA with the adoption of Scheme 2.

While it’s a noble idea, an attempt to ease the traffic in the main highway, Scheme 2 will only shift the mode of transport from provincial buses to UV express, which to may not solve the problem but will add to its as it could mean additional vehicles traversing EDSA.

The churning of the domestic economy may likewise be affected. Buses carry in their bellies a good amount of agricultural produce – from vegetables to dried fish, including the so-called “paoit,” an Ilocano word for “padala system” prevalent among people living in Northern Luzon to their relatives in Metro Manila. You’re only seeing buses, but, they, too, are carriers of business – micro and small entrepreneurs as well as some on a larger scale.
Motorists plying the EDSA route daily could heave a sigh of relief should the adoption of both Scheme 1 and 2 ease the gridlock. In the meantime, let’s wait for the result of the dry runs.

Talk back to me at sionil731@gmail.com

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