Reorganization of bus operators plying Edsa sought

Business Mirror, Philippines, 4 July, 2015

GOVERNMENT regulators and groups, seeking an efficient transportation system, suggested the reorganization of the numerous bus operators who ply Edsa to ease traffic congestion in one of Metro Manila’s busiest highways.

THis as the social cost of traffic congestion along Edsa is now pegged at P5.5 billion a year, according to a study released by the state think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS).

Prof. Roehlano Briones, speaking during a back-to-back event dubbed “Competition Reforms in the Bus Transport and Rice Sector,” a meeting organized by Action for Economic Reforms, Consumer Unity and Trust Society International and PIDS held recently also underscored the importance of reforming the bus drivers’ compensation scheme to make them become more compliant with the traffic rules.

The PIDS’ study stressed that an effective decongestion policy among buses would significantly reduce the time-delay and productivity costs to commuters.

Previously, a 2014 study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) resulted in a relevant conclusion, saying that a 50-percent bus reduction in Edsa was possible without a decrease in service level.

Aside from better traffic management and infrastructure, among the solutions currently being proposed is the fixing of the wage system of bus drivers and conductors.

The past system called “boundary system” has been seen to cause drivers to haggle for passengers, even up to the extent of violating traffic rules and worse, risking passengers to accidents.

In 2012 the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) released the Department Order 118, mandating the payment of fixed salaries and incentives-based portion to bus drivers and conductors.

Unfortunately, the DOLE scheme might not be creating any difference because it still has a commission based portion.

The existence of large number of buses implies profitability despite the “cut throat” competition, and thus, operators may be assumed of being capable of fixing their drivers’ wages.

Working toward this, alongside with disseminating stories of good practices in the bus transport sector and initiating a political analysis of the bus transport sector, are among the activities to undertake regarding the issue, the study said.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Department of Justice-Office for Competition, Business Licensing of Fair Trade and Enforcement Bureau, Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Asian Institute of Management, University of the Philippines (UP) National College of Public Administration and Governance and UP National Center for Transportation Studies, Foundation for Economic Freedom, Trade Advisory Group, Alternative Legal Services and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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