(Un)common Sense by James Veloso
(Un)Common Sense

Disrupted routes, disrupted lives

(Second of two parts)

Aug 5, 2022, 12:02 AM
James Veloso

James Veloso

Writer/Columnist

Another issue hurled against the implementation of the Metro Manila Route Rationalization system is that bus operators and commuters alike were “jinxed” after the metropolis’ major routes were re-organized.

Several bus companies operating in San Pedro City, Laguna have found themselves being assigned to routes far outside their “pre-pandemic” service area.

One bus company that once had routes to San Pedro now serves Route 22 (Angat, Bulacan-Monumento) while another now serves Route 7 (Montalban, Rizal – Quezon Avenue).

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One reason for this is that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) assigned these routes to so-called “consortiums,” or organizations that independent bus companies must now join.

For example, Route 15 which serves San Pedro and Biñan cities was assigned to the J&A Chua Management Group, which solely comprises of JAC Liner and LLI Bus Co., Inc. [BBL Trans later joined that consortium to serve Route 15, but it also joined the Mega Manila Consortium Corporation where it now serves Routes 25 (BCG-Alabang) and 35 (Ayala-Balibago)].

The LTFRB also assigned the default number of buses that should operate on each route. For example, Route 15 was allotted 105 units – 73 from the JAC Liner group and 32 from other bus companies.

However, based on a document I got from my bus enthusiast friends, the number of buses authorized to ply routes to San Pedro (both EDSA and non-EDSA routes) was 547 units as of 2017.

And judging from my own experiences as a commuter in the “old normal,” even that was insufficient as buses going to Pacita are jam-packed at Guadalupe or even Boni Avenue during rush hour. Long lines at bus terminals have also become the norm.

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Another point against the Route Rationalization System, in my opinion, is that it was implemented without analyzing the pre-pandemic commuter dynamics in Metro Manila – even with the argument that these routes were tailor-crafted for the Covid-19 pandemic situation when many stayed at home.

Routes 15 and 35, for instance, was created without the realization that many commuters from Laguna province often get off at LRT Buendia in Pasay City, particularly students from the University Belt in Manila and Taft Avenue.

With the new route assignment to Ayala Avenue in Makati City, this meant that commuters must now get off at Buendia Avenue corner SLEX and catch a jeepney or a Route 13 bus (PITX-BGC via Buendia) just to get to LRT Buendia.

Nowadays, in fact, many Route 15 buses now proceed to LRT Buendia, where they have terminals in the pre-pandemic era, instead of the MRT Ayala bus stop in Makati City where their official terminus is, due to increased passenger demand.

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I don’t believe we should “scrap” entirely the Route Rationalization System, as it is the first concrete effort by the government to reorganize the chaos of Metro Manila’s bus system.

Heck, by assigning numbers to the routes like in other bus systems abroad, the LTFRB has made commuting a bit easier by enabling commuters to remember which bus to ride in to their destinations.

But if we are really serious in getting back to our normal routines should the Covid-19 pandemic finally becomes manageable, the government should take a closer look at how commuters behave in order for our lives not to go back to the “chaotic” commute that we had endured before the pandemic struck.


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