Provincial bus operators appeal for inclusive dialogue on traffic strategies

A group of provincial bus operators called for “thorough consultations” with all transport industry stakeholders in the crafting of solutions to the traffic problem in the country.

Vincent Rondaris, president of the Nagkakaisang Samahan ng Nangangasiwa ng Panlalawigang Bus sa Pilipinas, Inc. (NSNPBPI), issued the appeal at a recent webinar on traffic problems spearheaded by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, saying provincial bus operators have traditionally been left out of the consultation table.

“Consultation is one of the weak points, we feel, of crafting a policy,” Rondaris said, claiming that over the several past administrations, “we never really had a meaningful consultation with the policy crafters. We felt as though we were being evaded.”

He said that the group believes that for the policies to be effective “they should be attuned to the realities on the ground.”

He added that with “continuous, meaningful and sincere dialogue” between all local government units, transport operators, commuter groups and involved government agencies, there will be assurance of cooperation, consensus, coordination and implementation.

Rondaris also presented other recommendations that NSNPBPI believes will help untangle the traffic situation in the country. For one he said that transport policies must be geared towards mass transport systems and must veer away from “car-centric” policies.

He also stressed that plans must be viable and sustainable, created by a team of experts and backed by empirical data. There should also be a database on travel patterns and on the increase in vehicles and population in the metropolis, and this database shall be used as the basis for issuing franchises.

“There must be a serious effort to make that credible database for new franchises considering that urban development is also part of the equation for making transport and traffic efficient,” Rondaris stated.

He likewise pressed for the lifting of the number coding for mass transport vehicles and the suspension of the vehicle phaseout policy to cater to more commuters, saying there is a looming shortage of buses because “every year hundreds of buses get phased out.”

In addition the group is seeking the temporary suspension of the route rationalization program, noting that it “does not consider the economic viability of the routes.”

Other measures proposed are the ban on parking on all roads used by mass-transport and high-occupancy vehicles, and continuous sidewalk clearing operations.

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