So it seems.
Just lately, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has approved more than 10,000 new slots for ride-hailing services. While this is lauded to create more jobs, the move is expected to worsen the existing traffic situation. In Metro Manila alone, around PhP3.8 billion economic losses are experienced daily during the pre-pandemic levels because of the traffic.
The last time we checked, the mandate of LTFRB’s mother agency, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), is still the promotion, development and regulation of a dependable and coordinated network of transportation and the main agency that ensures the fast, safe, efficient and reliable transportation services. With the additional 10,000 vehicles, the idea of a “fast, efficient and reliable transportation” is lost. The same with the word “regulatory” in the LTFRB.
But of course, we cannot blame the LTFRB it is outside of the DoTr’s group chat. In the end, it is still the lead agency that decides who to include and not. Worse, there may be no group chat at all. Such is a big problem because improving the transport system in the Philippines requires a concerted effort from multiple stakeholders not only from the DoTr’s attached agencies but also other government agencies, the private sector, and the general public.
If ever a group chat on realizing the DoTr mandate exists or is yet to be created, hopefully the members could consider the following:
- Improve public transportation infrastructure by investing in projects that will enable faster public transit systems such as railway systems or rapid bus transit (BRT) systems. Building new infrastructure bypasses the congested roads in cities like Manila, making public transport faster.
- Regulate the operations of jeepneys, buses, and other modes of transportation by ensuring that private transport providers follow safety and maintenance standards. Furthermore, regulations need to be enforced to prevent drivers from overcharging and prioritizing practice, such as the second trip system in jeepneys.
- Establish bus carousel-type operations in areas where BRTs and light railway transport systems are not realistic. This can be operated by the government.
- Introduce digital solutions like e-ticketing systems, GPS trackers, and smart traffic management systems to substantially improve transport efficiency and reduce operational costs. These solutions can provide real-time data and analysis concerning passenger movement, enabling smarter scheduling and resource allocation decisions.
- Encourage ride-sharing and carpooling by providing incentives such as tax incentives. People can reduce the number of vehicles on the road by sharing rides.
- Promote cycling and walking. The government should build more bike lanes and footpaths to encourage people to walk or cycle to work, particularly for the last or first mile connections of public transportation.
- Return the “no wang-wang policy.” Former President Noynoy Aquino did it and was found effective.