City bus operators want pre-pandemic routes back

Operators of buses in Metro Manila are appealing to allow them to return to the routes where they were plying prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a “24 Oras” report by Joseph Morong.

In a consultation, the operators said buses should be able to ply more routes to increase their drivers’ income.

“Before nabigay sa amin ‘yung mga GCQ [general community quarantine] routes, lahat kami we already started with refleeting dahil sa transport modernization program ..In-acquire namin ‘yung mga buses na ‘yun. Malalaki ‘yung loans na ‘yun tapos naiba ‘yung routes,” Sheila Albero, president of Mega Manila Consortium, said.

In March 2020, the government closed the public transport system in a bid to prevent the COVID-19 spread.

As the lockdown eased through the months, several buses were designated to various routes, including in avenues that made them compete with the jeepneys.

City and provincial buses were also prevented from traversing EDSA. In their place, the government started the bus carousel along EDSA that then gave free rides to the public.

The operators expressed hope they could retake their old routes, including EDSA.

From more than 3,000 city buses traveling along EDSA, a little over 500 are left under the bus carousel service.

The operators acknowledged that the return of the buses on EDSA could aggravate the flow of traffic. But they said they badly need help, especially that some of their members are deep in debt.

“We’re asking the government if we could come up with a win-win solution kung paano kami makabalik and balance natin na hindi maka-cause ng traffic,” Albero said.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board head Teofilo Guadiz III said the agency is not closing the possibility of the buses’ return on EDSA.

“‘Pag hindi ‘yan kumikita, it now becomes a dying industry. It is the duty of the LTFRB to protect the industry,” he said.

“We may not totally open EDSA for them but we may have probably an additional lane for them,” Guadiz added. –LDF/KG, GMA Integrated News

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