The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has appealed to city bus operators not to charge additional fares once the provincial bus ban along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (Edsa) is fully implemented.

“Hindi po madodoble ang pamasahe kasi iiksi yung biyahe ng mga provincial buses. Mababawasan ang mga provincial buses at the same time the city buses are willing to shoulder the difference (There will be no additional fares because the trips of provincial buses will be cut short. Provincial buses will be reduced at the same time the city buses are willing to shoulder the difference),” MMDA Edsa traffic chief Edison “Bong” Nebrija said in a radio interview on Thursday.

The MMDA official noted that the fares of city buses are expected to be costlier than provincial buses as their routes will be extended to the interim terminals in Valenzuela City and Sta. Rosa in Laguna once the closure of the provincial bus terminals along Edsa is carried out.

“Ibig sabihin, if ‘yung pamasahe is PHP1,000 from Bicol to Cubao tapos mapuputol naging PHP900 dahil Sta. Rosa ka, sinasabi namin from Sta. Rosa to Cubao kung pwede PHP100 na lang ang pamasahe (For instance, if a bus with routes from Bicol to Cubao charges PHP1,000 they will now have a PHP900 fare as its trip will end at Sta. Rosa. Thus, we appeal to the city buses to only impose a PHP100 fare to their passengers),” Nebrija said.

The MMDA is awaiting special permits from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for the implementation of the fare scheme.

The agency is currently conducting dialogues with provincial and city bus operators as well as commuters’ group to gather their views on the provincial bus ban.

The MMDA is not setting a definite date for the closure of the provincial bus terminals as it still needs to finalize the guidelines of its implementation with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the LTFRB.

“We will be presenting our plan on the closure of bus terminals to the Metro Manila mayors once we received the guidelines from the DOTr and LTFRB,” Nebrija said.

The MMDA earlier said it planned to close all 47 provincial bus terminals along Edsa by June.

The agency has suspended the dry run for the policy pending its meeting with the DOTr and LTFRB. Strict enforcement of the no loading and unloading policy of provincial buses along Edsa still remains in effect.

The Metro Manila Council, made up of the 17 Metro Manila mayors, approved MMDA Regulation No. 19-002, prohibiting the issuance of business permits to public utility vehicle terminals and operations along Edsa. Once the business permits are revoked, the actual closure of the terminals can be implemented by the concerned local government units, which have jurisdiction over the terminals.

Petitions were filed by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda and Ako Bicol Partylist at the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the provincial bus ban.

Data from the MMDA show there are twelve thousand passenger buses in Metro Manila, 8,000 of which are provincial buses while 4,000 are city buses. (PNA)