‘Birth pains’: MMDA makes adjustments to central bus terminal in Parañaque
By Niña P. Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Adjustments have been made at the new bus hub in Parañaque City, as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) experiences “birth pains” on the first week of the new bus service system.
On Thursday morning, the MMDA allowed provincial buses entering the capital to stop and unload passengers right in front of the city bus terminal or the Southwest Interim Transport Terminal (SITT), on the hub’s right side.
Hence, commuters no longer need to walk for three minutes from the point where they used to disembark at the Macapagal Avenue up to the city bus terminal to aboard another public utility vehicle.
From the city bus terminal along the Coastal Road, passengers have jeepneys, city buses, AUVs to pick from to reach their destinations.
Instead of going directly to the terminal by taking Marina Avenue, buses coming from the Coastal Road must turn right to a service road going to the city bus terminal to drop off their passengers.
Afterward, they have to make a U-turn in front of the city bus terminal and proceed to the hub’s staging area.
The adjustment significantly eased the traffic gridlock along Marina Avenue on Thursday.
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, who has been overseeing the operation of the bus terminal since day one, said the public should expect more adjustments in the future as the agency would remain open to suggestions.
Tolentino said on Thursday that he had been studying the possibility of extending the 1.4-hectare terminal to an adjacent one-hectare lot owned by the Philippine Reclamation Area as the agency’s response to the complaint that the new terminal could not hold the 1,000 provincial buses it has been receiving and dispatching.
“This can serve as a staging area for those buses waiting for their turn,” Tolentino said giving reporters a tour of the possible location of the terminal’s extension.
For two days, the buses waiting to be dispatched formed a long queue at the Macapagal Avenue causing traffic jams throughout the day.
Tolentino also explained that during the first two days of the bus hub, commuters were asked by bus drivers and conductors to get off far from the bus terminal.
“They empty their buses before reaching the terminal so they will be dispatched immediately. We have already learned about this scheme and tried to correct it,” Tolentino said.
The MMDA is also ironing out the kinks in the arrival and dispatch of provincial buses entering and leaving the capital.
While protests marked the opening of the terminal, Tolentino still found an ally in the transport group 1-Utak.
Lawyer Vigor Mendoza, chair of 1-Utak, said the new terminal should be seen as a work in progress, allowing government officials to learn and adjust.
“It’s a matter of improving the system’s flow,” he said adding that the public should give the terminal at least one week before judging it.
“All the confusion and disorder is but normal since this is the first time Metro Manila is doing this,” Mendoza said.
The MMDA chief reiterated that the SITT status as a temporary hub and a permanent terminal would be constructed on a five-hectare lot, also owned by the PRA.
The area allotted for the permanent hub is just 30 meters away from SITT. “We are slowly changing the people’s habit. It’s really not right that commuters can board and disembark a bus anywhere they want,” Tolentino said.