Last Monday instantly became a holiday, at least for all public and private elementary and high schools in San Juan and Quezon City, two of the areas hardest hit by a transportation strike of bus operators.
The revival of Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) on buses in a view to reduce traffic congestion caused bus operators to stage the strike. Thousands of commuters got stranded. Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino apologized to the public for the inconvenience but strongly stated that the bus coding was not the real cause of the of the problem, but the strike staged by several bus operators. “The problem is not the number-coding, the real problem started when bus operators suddenly refused to comply and ply their routes,” the MMDA chief pointed out.
In contradiction of the statement of Chairman Tolentino, the ntegrated Metro Manila Bus Operators Association (IMBOA) and the Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines (PBOAP) denied the allegation stating that there was no bus strike at all. Lawyers Grace Aduco of IMBOA and Alex Yague of PBOAP claimed that a great number of public utility bus (PUB) units that did not hit the road was the same number of units with plate numbers ending with 1 and 2, therefore banned to operate on Mondays following the number-coding scheme. “There has been no strike at all. It just so happened that there are a lot of PUBs with plate numbers ending in 1 and 2. Naturally, these units were not deployed by their operators (last) Monday in compliance with the number-coding scheme,” she said.
The reimplementation was greatly felt yesterday when a lot of commuters took more than 30 minutes just to ride a bus home. There were no stranded commuters during the rush hour but there sure were a lot of disgruntled commuters. The effect was noticeable. There were less buses on the road. Conductors and operators of PUB’s pities the commuters, especially those old ones that is incapable of keeping up against those younger commuters that scrambles their way to the bus.
However, bus operators are positive as fewer buses give them more passengers, hence increasing their profit. ”I just feel sorry for the passengers, they basically rush in and squeeze their way inside. But on a more positive side, we have strong earnings,” the bus operator said.
Despite all the dilemma, Chairman Francis Tolentino said on Tuesday that the number-coding scheme for public utility buses will stay.