TRANSPORT operators renewed their appeal to the Supreme Court to inspect the bus terminal in Parañaque City, the last point for Southern Tagalog buses, which have been barred from traveling inside Metro Manila as part of the government's traffic decongestion plan.

Operators Angeles Bayot, Miriam Villena, Nila Santos, Angela Legaspi, Orlando Ocampo, Basilia Crutyo and Diosdado Perillo said the ocular inspection of the Southwest Interim Transport Terminal (SITT) must push through since the initiative was backed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

The MMDA supervises the terminal.

In a five-page motion, the operators asked the SC to assign an officer or commissioner to conduct the inspection for at least three days and on different hours of the day.

"On the basis of such ocular inspection, the Supreme Court could determine if the SITT and its operation are at par with international standards which could provide or insure efficient and seamless travel for the commuting public and if it could be considered as a framework of administration’s centerpiece strategy for infrastructure development as provided under Executive Order No. 67," said Romulo Macalintal, counsel for the operators.

The operators complained of the "dismal" condition of the terminal, where the riding public, bus drivers and their conductors are allegedly exposed to air pollution and heavy traffic because of the continuous running of the diesel engines of buses waiting for about two hours for their turn to enter the SITT.

The space occupied by the SITT at the Uniwide Coastal Mall was also supposedly designed for parking of light vehicles of customers of the mall and never intended for big buses.

The legality of EO 67, which seeks to establish the Integrated Transport System for select points in Metro Manila, has been challenged before the SC.

Petitioners said the EO and Administrative Order 40 establishing the Interim Transport Terminals were implemented without due notice and public hearing.

As a result, they said the original route of the buses (Cavite to Manila) was shortened at the expense of their franchise.

“While the SITT was established to allegedly decongest traffic along Edsa, the same should not be a reason to amend their CPCs (Certificates of Public Convenience) because their buses do not even enter Edsa, hence, their operation will never add to the alleged traffic in Edsa," Macalintal said.

Because of the route change, passengers from Cavite have to alight at SITT and walk several meters or climb the overpass near the mall to take another ride to Manila, causing them to spend additional fare and suffer inconveniences especially for people with disabilities or for the senior citizens.

Macalintal said the establishment of SITT led to the proliferation of new Asian utility vehicles or even colorum units, which will transport these passengers to Manila.

The operators also asked the SC to order the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the MMDA to submit to the court a copy of whatever written lease agreement they may have with the Manila Bay Development Corporation and/or Uniwide Holdings in connection with the use of the mall's premises. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)