Metro Manila marked with slowest travel time, PISTON sparks concerns over Cubao-Divisoria route

By: Andrea Eleanor Cabaron, Thea Divina
January 13, 2024
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A popular route, Cubao to Divisoria, is poised to experience mass disruption as the national capital grips with slow travel times according to a recent finding from TomTom. Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN News.

A study by Dutch navigation and digital mapping group TomTom in 2023 shows Metro Manila as one of the 387 metropolitan areas out of 55 countries with the slowest travel time due to the constant heavy flow of traffic and volume of private and public vehicles.

TomTom’s data indicates an approximate length of 10 kilometers in Manila’s city center takes an average of 35 minutes and 30 seconds travel time.

It also claims rush hour, especially during Fridays from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. is the worst-case scenario for drivers and commuters.   

As Metro Manila continues to grapple with the issue of traffic, the spotlight is now on the contentious Jeepney/Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) Modernization Program, which is an initiative from the Philippine government that is aimed at phasing out traditional jeepneys in favor of more modern and eco-friendly PUVs. 

The program has sparked controversy and resistance from various sectors, including transport groups and operators. It also further fueled concerns about the already slow-paced movement of vehicles in the Philippines.

 

Cubao-Divisoria Route and its Costs

In a recent statement, Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) President Mody Floranda revealed the Cubao-Divisoria route, traversing E. Rodriguez-Espana and Project 3 routes - lifelines for many employees and students in the University Belt - are set to face significant disruption. 

This is due to the PUV status with only 13 authorized modern jeeps currently operational on this crucial line.

"Saan sasakay yung ating mga commuter? Hindi kakayanin ng lalabingtatlong unit ang dami ng pasahero," Floranda said.

The scarcity of authorized modern jeeps on the Cubao-Divisoria route raises concerns about the practicality and effectiveness of the Jeepney modernization program. Commuters, especially workers and students who rely on these routes, fear possible turmoil in their daily work as the limited number of modern PUVs struggle to meet the high demand.

During a House Transportation panel’s inquiry of the PUV modernization program on Wednesday, a lawmaker said jeepney fares should increase to Php 30-Php 40 to accommodate the Php 7,000 daily expenses of acquiring a modernized jeepney leading up to the estimated 3 million peso worth of one unit.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) did not provide a concrete response to the topic. However, they said the banks are in the fitting position to determine the cost computations for amortization based on the latest fuel price and fare regulated by said government agency. 

The current minimum fare is Php 13 for traditional jeepneys and Php 15 for modern jeepneys.

 

PISTON on LTFRB 

On Thursday, the LTFRB disclosed that 50% of jeepneys in Metro Manila failed to meet the consolidation deadline last December 31, 2023.

The situation would result in half of the jeepneys being considered “colorum” starting February 1, 2024, provoking road apprehension.

This revelation raises concerns about the efficacy of the consolidation process and the readiness of the public transportation system to embrace the modernization initiative.

PISTON contends that jeepneys plying the routes should not face apprehension on February 1, asserting the LTFRB lacks the authority to suspend their franchises. 

The transportation group further states that Congress greets the jeepney franchise, and the LTFRB possesses only provisional authority. This stance sets the stage for potential conflicts between transport operators and regulatory authorities in the coming days.

Data from LTFRB indicates only 21,655 out of 42,177 units in Metro Manila met the consolidation deadline, with a remainder of 20,522 unconsolidated jeepneys.

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