The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said provincial buses are not prohibited from operating beyond the window hours it had set, provided they do not terminate the trips at their own terminals and instead use the designated integrated terminals.
MMDA chairman Romando Artes said Thursday that based on the existing policy of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), all provincial buses shall terminate their routes at the North Luzon Express Terminal (NLET) in Bocaue, Bulacan or at the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).
Artes said the LTFRB heeded the request of MMDA after provincial bus operators appealed to the agency to allow them to ply EDSA during the window hour period from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. within a two-week dry run, which started last week of March.
Artes likewise confirmed the agency and the provincial bus operators had a “gentleman’s agreement” after they requested for an extension, thus allowing all provincial buses from traversing along the stretch of EDSA and utilized their respective Metro Manila terminals 24/7 during the Holy Week.
The window hours scheme, however, resumed on Wednesday, April 20.
Reports showed thousands of passengers stranded in various terminals in Central Luzon because there were no buses going to Manila.
As many as 3,000 passengers have been stranded at the Dau Mabalacat City Bus Terminal since Wednesday morning.
The LTFRB, however, clarified in a separate Facebook post on April 20 that it was not a party to the “gentlemen’s agreement” between the MMDA and provincial bus operators.
“The LTFRB was not party to the agreement while it was being discussed,” the agency said.
LTFRB said permits to operate were given to provincial bus operators to transport passengers at any given time when there is passenger demand, and not only at night time. LTFRB said it will issue show cause orders against provincial bus operators over the chaos blamed on the implementation of the window hours scheme.
“Our legal team drafted a show cause order… because they did not ply their routes yesterday and it affected thousands of stranded commuters,” LTFRB executive director Tina Cassion said.
“The problem with them is they took the commuters’ welfare hostage because of their very willful preference that their buses should be allowed in their private terminals any time of the day,” Cassion added.