By Ruth Abbey Gita |  Sun Star Manila | November 11, 2015

SENATOR Francis Escudero hit Wednesday administration bet Manuel Roxas II for his proposal to terminate all existing bus franchises in Metro Manila, saying it was a “knee-jerk” solution to traffic woes in the metropolis.

Escudero said Roxas’ suggestion was not only “anti-business” but also “anti-poor” because the riding public, who depends on bus in the absence of an efficient rail transport system, will be primarily affected.

“We should be careful not to rush to knee-jerk solutions that would only exacerbate the situation in Metro Manila’s three major rail transit systems, especially the problematic Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3),” Escudero said.

“If you remove all buses plying Edsa and other major thoroughfares, what is the alternative? That proposal is detrimental to the welfare of the riding public,” he added, noting that the proposal “could introduce a lot of attendant risks that can make matters worse.”

Earlier, Roxas said he intends to solve the worsening traffic condition by decongesting Metro Manila’s main thoroughfares and streamlining the system of bus franchises.

“One of the things that we will be doing is to terminate all of those various franchises along major thoroughfares in (Metro Manila),” Roxas said.

Escudero, however, said the problem requires long-term sustainable solutions like prioritizing an expanded and improved public transport system.

Traffic jams in Metro Manila would have been “less worse” if there was an efficient and reliable mass transport system like commuter rails, which are a good alternative to private vehicles, he added.

He said the MRT-3, which traverses Edsa, “is definitely not a good alternative mode of transportation at this point” because of all the problems confronting it.

Despite the rehabilitation of MRT services and facilities, the commuting public continued to experience glitches.

“With all the technical glitches, long lines and other problems hounding the MRT-3, how can you expect everyone to rely on this public transport system,” he said.

Instead of total cancellation, Escudero said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) should conduct a no-nonsense review and cleansing of all existing bus franchises.

Had Roxas ordered a review and cleansing of all LTFRB-issued franchises when he was transportation secretary, the senator said there would have been no colorum or illegal buses that contribute to the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila.