Joey Salceda runs to SC to stop provincial bus ban along EDSA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27) — A lawmaker has sought Supreme Court intervention to stop the ban on provincial buses on EDSA which will take effect next month.

José María Clemente "Joey" Salceda, who represents the second district of Albay, asked the high court on Monday to issue a temporary restraining order against the plan of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to prohibit all provincial buses from picking up and dropping off passengers on the country's busiest highway.

He said banning provincial buses "will not solve traffic congestion" on Epifanio de los Santos Ave. (EDSA). He cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority that stae only around 4,000 provincial buses use Metro Manila's roads out of a total of 2.8 million vehicles.

"[W]hy pick on probinsyanos to solve Metro Manila traffic? While each bus can carry 50 (people), a car can carry only five," Salceda said. "MMDA should have instead managed the 800,000 utility vehicles, 400,000 cars, 120,000 trucks, and 1.4 million tricycles fighting for every available space in its streets."

The MMDA staged a dry run for the bus ban on April 21 but called it off two weeks later to iron out the guidelines for the scheme, which is slated to begin in June.

Under the proposal, buses from northern Luzon should drop off all passengers at a terminal in Valenzuela City, while commuters from the south will have to alight at a terminal in Sta. Rosa, Laguna or in Parañaque City. From there, they will have to board a different bus or car to reach Manila.

In his 15-page petition, Salceda said the MMDA regulation is "utterly oppressive and unfair" to the public as the new routes will only add physical and financial burden to commuters.

Salceda also told magistrates he too takes public buses to and from his hometown, which is at least 10 hours south of Metro Manila.

He said provincial buses are not to blame for traffic jams, as they usually enter EDSA between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. rather than rush hours.

READ: DOTr, MMDA working on new city bus routes

The MMDA "overstepped" its authority by revoking the approved routes and franchises of these buses as granted by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Salceda said, as well as by removing bus terminals along EDSA.

There are 96 bus terminals in Metro Manila, 46 of these along EDSA, with many operating in Cubao, Quezon City.

In April, representatives of Ako Bicol party-list also filed a similar request for the high court to stop the bus ban. MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia has said provincial buses on EDSA only cause five percent of traffic on the 23-kilometer stretch.