Accident involving a Ceres bus

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013


THE accident involving a Ceres Bus Liner vehicle that killed two persons in the southern town of Badian, Cebu the other day reminded me of an experience about two years ago after I conducted a lecture on Editorial Writing in Dalaguete, another southern town.

Before that, I had this perception that Ceres Bus Liner, which is owned by a company from Negros Occidental with voracious appetite for smaller bus firms, had introduced professionalism in the transport industry after making its presence felt in many Cebu routes. Ceres has at least shiny buses, which is an improvement from the past setup in Cebu.

I rode an airconditioned Ceres bus to Dalaguete that morning with this in mind. The travel was smooth and I felt rested when I arrived.

Going home was a different thing. It was already dark when I managed to board a Ceres bus in Dalaguete. The vehicle wasn’t airconditioned but I thought the cool and fresh countryside air would make up for that. I didn’t realize the trip wouldn’t be to my liking.

It seemed like the driver was chasing the devil himself going to the next town, Argao.

Actually, a co-passenger told me the driver was racing against a competing bus. I felt uneasy because days before an accident involving a bus had hit the headlines.

When I felt I could no longer take it anymore, I shouted at the driver, trying to put sense into his dense head. Thankfully, he was forced to slow down when we neared Argao proper because of the increased presence of other vehicles there. I settled down after that.

It was then that I realized that my perception of Ceres Bus Liner was wrong.

Transport companies are only as good as the way they hire and handle their drivers.

They can flood the routes with glossy and well-designed buses but if they fail to professionalize their drivers and change the culture enveloping business competition in a locality, they would end up as no different from the others.

The number of accidents involving Ceres buses in Cebu is rising through the years.

It’s time for its owners to address the problem.

***

The Ceres bus accident is interesting on various levels. Killed were Marilyn Gerson, 41, and her daughter Geralyn, 5. Marilyn is the wife of the bus driver, Erwin, 42. An alcohol test conducted on the driver showed he was driving under the influence.

Police said they are still investigating reports that Erwin and Marilyn were arguing when the accident happened. The driver denied the claim but it could be the reason why he was speeding. It is also possible his drinking before he drove the bus sparked a quarrel.

If the claim that husband and wife were arguing before the accident happened, then that’s one lesson learned. The driver shouldn’t have driven the bus with his wife on board while they still had unresolved issues.

But even if they weren’t arguing, a driver losing his wife and child to a vehicular accident is tragic. That will gnaw on the conscience of the driver. I don’t know how Erwin will recover from the tragedy.

At the very least, he can be faulted for driving under the influence. He claimed he only had two bottles of beer, something that investigators will have to verify. Still, the number of bottles of liquor consumed can be relative. There are people who get drunk even with one bottle. The lesson there is the same: Don’t drink and drive.

As for Vallacar Transit, the owner of the bus, are its drivers not being supervised to ensure that when they report for duty they are in their best condition physically and emotionally? I think that this is something that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) should look into.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 18, 2013.

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