For anyone who’s ever passed along EDSA, buses loading and unloading passengers at any point along the way are a common sight. If you happen to find yourself near a stop packed with passengers hoping to catch a ride, you will likely see multiple buses trying to load as many people as possible even if there doesn’t seem to be any space left to accommodate them. This situation often leads to lanes being blocked due to the space occupied by the buses and ends up creating a bottleneck that worsens traffic on the road.

Bakit may bottlenecks? Narito ang sagot. 😡 Madali lang remedyuhan ito eh. Bus drivers and conductors should get fixed salaries and no additoonal commissions, para hindi sila nagbababad sa kalye trying to get as many passengers as they can, traffic be damned. In fairness to the Aquino admin, naglabas ang LTFRB that time ng ganitong regulation. But apparently the bus owners challenged it in court and the court sided with them, kaya never na-implement. This is why we can’t fucking have nice things. Nyeta! 🤬

Posted by Eric Cabahug on Saturday, July 6, 2019

As frustrating as it may be, the government has yet to resolve the problem that many believe stems from the boundary system followed by bus companies. Under the boundary system, bus drivers “rent” the vehicle from owners or operators for a specified length of time in exchange for a boundary fee. In return, any fares collected during their drive that are in excess of the boundary fee will serve as their earnings. This pushes bus drivers to focus on getting as many passengers as they can since it directly increases their income–provided that they do not spend on any fuel or light maintenance since they are also expected to shoulder these.

Would it help if the government outright abolished the boundary system? There have been many attempts in the past but none have succeeded to the extent that EDSA has become less congested and drivers have ceased to compete for passengers. During the time of former President Noynoy Aquino, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board released a Memorandum Circular that would have mandated a part-fixed-part-performance compensation system for public utility bus drivers and conductors. This would ensure that they automatically received a base pay not lower than the minimum wage set for the region. However, this initiative did not succeed as bus operators in areas outside Manila opposed the implementation and brought it before the Supreme Court (SC), stating that it violated the constitution.

Although the SC eventually dismissed the petition in 2018 and the Department of Labor and Employment moved to monitor the implementation of the new compensation system, the situation in EDSA remains the same. This begs the question of what should be done next: Is the new compensation system ineffective or poorly implemented? Or, could there be more to the bus bottleneck problem than we originally thought?

Until the government endeavors to rethink their approach to buses along EDSA, commuters will continue to be viewed as potential sources of money–with little regard for their overall safety and convenience. Drivers will still confront the never-ending dilemma of being responsible drivers or ensuring that they earn enough for their families’ needs. Lastly, other motorists will find themselves stuck for hours in one spot filled with buses, only to find clear roads once they make it past the bottlenecks.

Photo Credit: pia.gov.ph