TO address the growing public transportation problem in Davao City, the city government of Davao and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Davao Region (LTFRB-Davao) is currently implementing the Peak Hours Augmentation Bus System (Phabs).
Most of the buses serve commuters during peak hours but some operate for the most part of the day.
At present, PHABS serves routes in Cabantian, Calinan, Mandug, Catalunan Grande, Mintal, Panacan, and Toril.
The buses have somehow addressed the needs of the commuters in the city. However, operators have reported to the Davao City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO) that they are losing income.
"Dehado gyod ang mga bus operators kay lugi sila (The bus operators are losing income). Per trip nila is malugi sila og more than P2,000 (they are losing around P2,000 per trip)," CTTMO head Dionisio Abude said in an interview with SunStar Davao.
As a result, some operators would opt to reduce the number of buses serving the route.
Despite the demand for public transport, why are the bus operators losing income?
Some of the assumptions we have right now are that some may not be fully aware of the bus service operating on these routes. Hence, fewer people not riding the buses.
Not everyone is on social media to know about the bus service through PHABS too. They may also not be aware of the bus stops where they can board or get down.
Hence, the city may sustain its information campaign about the PHABS or step it up. The city could make the bus stops more identifiable to the public.
Probably, some would find waiting at the bus stops too long. This would give the impression that no bus is in service. Hence, opting for other transportation modes.
Others would still opt for the jeepneys serving the same route instead of the buses because it is much cheaper or less waiting time to get on one.
We also see that the behavior of people has not changed yet when it comes to their option of mass public transportation. Some are still used to jeepneys, which has cheaper fare and allows them to go down anywhere along the route it is serving.
But these are simply assumptions based on our observations and the current behavior of the commuters. For now, we do not have the exact reason as to why not many are riding the buses despite the demand for public transport. We will have to wait for the additional information from CTTMO.
Nonetheless, we hope the city will implement measures to allow the buses to continue to operate. The city providing subsidies to bus operators is already one step in ensuring the buses continue to serve the commuters.
Maybe the city can embark on a campaign to help change the behavior of the general public when it comes to choosing the public transport they would ride on. In a sense, this will also help ready Dabawenyos for the planned High Priority Bus System.
The city could also review the routes where PHABS is operating and make adjustments as needed.
The PHABS is a commendable program of the city government. But when the operators serving are reporting losses, the city may have to look into why and make necessary adjustments to allow the program to continue to operate and benefit the commuters and the operators.