Cuenco: Buses are pulling out of Cebu City, we need more jeepney routes
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Councilor James Cuenco appealed once more to Mayor Edgardo Labella to reopen more jeepney routes in order to address the lack of public transport.
Cuenco said that certain bus liners had been pulling out their units from the city and were back to ferrying passengers on their original provincial routes.
Although the councilor has not revealed the number of buses that were pulled out, he said that more bus companies were starting to signify their desire to return to their provincial routes where it was more profitable for them.
Cuenco on lack of buses
He said that the reduction of the bus units might not be felt in the middle of the day, but during peak hours in the mornings and evenings, a clear line of passengers waiting for buses and jeepneys in the major work zones in the city would be observed.
Passengers have been complaining that there are not enough transportation especially at night from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. These force the buses, minibuses, beeps, and jeepneys to violate health protocols and overload their passenger vehicles with passengers.
Cuenco said that eventually the number of available public transport would not meet the demand of the commuters especially in the interior barangays where until now, no jeepneys were traversing.
This problem has caused the rise of informal habal-habal drivers in the mountainside barangays because workers simply need a form of transportation down to the main roads.
Barangays have turned a blind eye to these informal public transport because the needs of their residents were unmet by the current public transport.
Still, Cuenco said this could pose a danger to commuters and they would be safer in regulated jeepneys and buses instead.
“The mayor’s office said they are waiting for the recommendations of the EOC. I do not know why it’s taking so much time. We need more jeepneys because there are more workers already,” said Cuenco.
For his part, Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementor of the EOC, said they was no need for the EOC to recommend the return of the jeepney routes because this would be under the jurisdiction of the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board in Central Visayas (LTFRB-7).
“As far as EOC is concerned, our approval is not really required since the Mayor already issued the necessary EO for the reopening of the routes. Instead, we’re only concerned on the compliance of minimum health protocols and the roadworthiness of the jeepneys, emphasizing on smoke belching since it contributes to respiratory illnesses which is risky in the midst of this pandemic,” Garganera said.
“Nonetheless, we must emphasize that EOC is not the proper body to approve whether the jeepneys and the jeepney routes can be opened. I believe a body was created for that purpose which is the Balik Pasada Program,” he said.
It can be noted that LTFRB-7 has long recommended the reopening of the routes which was specifically stated in Cuenco’s letter request to Labella.
Mayor Labella has yet to respond to this continuous appeal of Cuenco and has repeatedly said that the request was being studied for over two months now.
Operators discouraged from investing
Cuenco said that the long term effect of this would be that the operators would be discouraged from investing in modern jeepneys, which was supposed to be the long term goal of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
“Kinsa pa may ganahan moinvest og modernized jeepneys nga moingon man sila nga basin pa lang dili ra diay ibalik ilang routa,” said Cuenco.
(Who would want to invest on modernized jeepneys when they would say that they would not be put back to their routes.)
With this, the councilor said there was an urgency to the return of the jeepney routes even if the number of jeepneys would be regulated.
In this way, all residents will be served and jeepney drivers will be given a chance to earn a living again.
“I will not stop trying. I will keep trying for the sake of the commuters and jeepney drivers,” said Cuenco.
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