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From 61 EDSA bus routes, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will now only provide a single route dedicated to EDSA if and when the National Capital Region finally transitions, Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento said on Sunday.

And out of the “topsy-turvy” 96 bus routes in Metro Manila, that includes those traversing EDSA, only 29 bus routes will be given a special franchise and each will all be dedicated and non-overlapping routes, the chair of the House transportation committee said.

During the virtual committee hearing conducted by Sarmiento’s panel, LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra said that the board decided to seize the opportunity to rationalize all land-based transport system and shorten routes to allow faster turn-around of buses and other forms of public utility vehicles.

Delgra told the Sarmiento panel that this newly “rationalized” routes will replace the old routes not only during the GCQ period but also “beyond GCQ” as part of the Department of Transportation’s (DoTr) effort to reform Metro Manila’s outdated land-based transport system.

“The public transport system, and I’m referring to the land-based public transport system, is in dire need of reform, even pre-COVID scenario,” he said.

“Part of that is having to improve the efficiency of our public transport system. What has happened in the last 30 or 40 years, the model of bus franchises is no longer relevant today and we have been saying that even at the start of this administration,” Delgra told the committee in last Saturday’s virtual Zoom hearing.

Delgra said that LTFRB, with the firm guidance of DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, will implement a new bus route system in time for Metro Manila’s transition to GCQ but this will be in effect even when the pandemic is finally over.

Delgra said that the single EDSA bus route will only be dedicated to EDSA and all other trips that were previously served by buses that also traverse through EDSA will have to be served by separate and dedicated bus routes.

Sarmiento expressed support for this move of the LTFRB as he noted that this is identical with his proposed “centralized and synchronized bus dispatch system” which he hopes would permanently solve Metro Manila traffic woes.

“For me it is really the right time to reform the land sector. I will be supporting you but I’m hoping that you will plan it well and execute it well. The most important here is for the public to have the transportation system that they need come GCQ,” Sarmiento said.

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