Santiago: LTFRB to blame for heavy traffic

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Monday, August 4, 2014


SENATOR Miriam Defensor Santiago filed a resolution questioning the legality of two recent memorandum circulars by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said to cause current traffic gridlocks in Katipunan Avenue and parts of C5.

"I'm calling for a Senate investigation on these LTFRB issuances because they prejudice public transport safety to benefit only a few. It seems that these issuances violate the Aquino administration's policies for economic development," Santiago said.

Santiago identified these LTFRB issuances as Memorandum Circular Numbers 2014-009, suspending operations against colorum buses and out-of-line operations; and 2014-010, which allowed public utility buses (PUBs) to modify their routes and pass through major thoroughfares, such as Edsa, from 19 June 2014 to 17 October 2014.

Colorum buses are public utility vehicles operating without a permit or are out-of-line public utility vehicles that operate outside their approved routes or area.

"The suspension of operations against the out-of-line buses would only legalize and spur the proliferation of unauthorized vehicles, which is inimical to the country’s economic development," she said.

The senator also said that these issuances completely disregard numerous studies, which say that the country is losing P153 billion a year because of traffic congestion.

Santiago added that the legalization of out-of-line routes not only violate existing laws in land transportation.

"These issuances also defeat the purpose of the establishment of the Integrated Transport System to decongest traffic in Metro Manila and to restrict provincial buses and other unauthorized public utility vehicles from entering Edsa," she said in her resolution.

Santiago also hit LTFRB's Board Resolution 5, which extended the "No Apprehension Policy" of trucks-for-hire (TH) freight services with green plates from 29 July to 29 August. She said that the board resolution caused more traffic congestions in main thoroughfares in the metropolis.

The senator also questioned the reason behind the resolution that "after consultation with other government agencies, representatives of the business sectors, and with TH Freight Owners; and considering the number of applicants nationwide, which will stop their operations that might affect the trade and commerce of our country, "[the extension was necessary] to give ample time to prospective applicants to file their corresponding applications" for trucks-for-hire services.

"LTFRB's logic escapes me. Allowing these trucks to ply our roads when they are still securing the necessary paperwork in the name of trade and commerce is a flimsy excuse. This is LTFRB’ failing in their basic regulatory functions," Santiago said.

"Furthermore, it appears in the LTFRB resolution that the LTFRB only consulted with the business sector and the trucking companies. Had they consulted with motorists and commuters, the Metro Manila traffic situation could have been different," Santiago added.

According to news reports, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino was not consulted about the LTFRB issuance.

The senator cited studies that the LTFRB's "no apprehension policy" increased travel time and decreased travel speed in both lanes in the Commonwealth Ave.-South Superhighway route. In the southbound lane, the route's travel time suffered a 73.6 percent increase, while the travel speed slowed to down 41 percent.

The studies also found that, compared with data from June 2013, the LTFRB’s "no apprehension policy" increased truck volume in Katipunan Avenue by 80.67 percent, C5-Bagong Ilog by 60.52 percent, and C5-McKinley Hills by 33.07 percent.

"Together with the LTFRB’s memorandum circulars, this board resolution is wreaking havoc on the daily lives of commuters and motorists," Santiago said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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