The Department of Transportation and Communications is looking at rationalizing the route structures of the current transportation systems around the country to make the services more efficient while lessening the congestion along major roads.
Transportation Assistant Secretary Jaime Raphael C. Feliciano said his agency is moving toward amending specifically the route structures of current bus services to meet the demand for traffic in densely populated areas.
“We are reforming the bus system that we have. We are also rationalizing the routes because the existing routes are all supply driven,” he said.
The government official said when an operator applies for a franchise, it gets a “route-measured capacity” from the transport agency.
“So what we’re doing is we are looking now for demand: where people are coming from and where they are going. Those are the services that we’ll be providing,” Feliciano explained. “The World Bank helped us with the study last month, but has to be validated in terms of origin destination.”
The transportation agency, he said, has identified around 16 primary routes and 59 secondary routes where it can provide mass-transportation services.
“In a few weeks, I think we’ll be able to identify what those routes will be. For now, our focus is Metro Manila,” Feliciano said. “We are looking into amending routes to provide more efficient ones. I think, the average today is two to three mode transfers. What we want is to shorten it to about one to two, as it would be less hassle for the passengers. It covers mass-transport systems, all that can carry 500 passengers per hour per direction.”
He said the plan is expected to be rolled out within the year.
“What we want to do now is service contracting. It means that the government will shoulder the market risk of bus operations; meaning that we will pay the bus companies in exchange of their services. Should there be an income from the operations, it will go directly to the government. In turn, we can use to cross-subsidize routes that are less profitable by the income that we can get,” the official explained.
This is just one of the measures that the transportation agency is looking at deploying to arrest the traffic congestion in major arteries around the Philippines.
Currently, the government is rolling out a transportation dream plan that costs about P4.76 trillion through 2030. The road map was laid out by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), which said around P539 billion must be invested in traffic infrastructure beginning 2014 up to 2016, and another P1.52 trillion must be invested from 2017 to 2022. The biggest investment requirement was seen in the period 2023 to 2030, costing at least P2.69 trillion.
These investments, the agency said, will translate into a reduction in transport fares and reduced travel time, resulting in gains and savings.
If the measures laid out by the Jica consultants were not realized, the country is set to forego some P6 billion a day in productivity losses. Currently, the Philippines is said to be losing some P2.4 billion daily due to the gridlock around the country’s major roads.