DOTr’s Tugade meets with Tolentino on emergency powers bid vs PH traffic woes

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2019   •   1774

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade on Wednesday met with Senator Francis Tolentino to discuss plans on refiling an emergency powers bill to solve the country’s traffic woes, particularly in Metro Manila.

Tugade said he met with Tolentino to tackle the measure that has been pending in both chambers of Congress for more than two years.

The transportation chief said he will do his best to convince lawmakers to pass the bill, which he sees as a vital solution to the country’s perennial problem on traffic.

“‘Wag po nating pabaunan ng duda ‘yung deliberasyon, pababaunan ko yan ng kaliwanagan sa pag-uusap. Naniniwala ako na kung ang mga mag-uusap ay may kaliwanagan, magkakaroon ng kooperasyon, pwede po nating mapadali ito,” he told reporters in an interview.

(Let us not cast doubt on the deliberation, I will shed light on its importance during discussion. I believe than when it is tackled by people who understand it, there will be cooperation. This can be fast-tracked.)

Tolentino earlier said he will push for the emergency powers bid once the incoming 18th Congress convenes on July 22.

The lawmaker said his version of the bill focuses on strengthening the mandate of concerned agencies and local government units to address the traffic crisis.

“Nalagyan natin ng ibang detalye na wala dati, for instance ‘yung working hours, ‘yung adjustment ng oras ng pagpasok at yung role ng mga local government units,” he said.

(We have placed there details that are not present in the previous bill, for instance the working hours, adjustment of working hours and the role of local government units.)

The bill seeking to ease the worsening traffic situation was first filed after Duterte said in his 2016 State of the Nation Address that traffic problems should be legitimately addressed if Congress could accord him emergency powers.

He eventually gave up on his plan after some lawmakers said that the emergency powers might be used for corruption.

Under the proposed Traffic Crisis Act, previously filed in the 17th Congress, the Transportation Secretary will be designated as Traffic Chief with power of control and supervision over land transportation agencies. He will also have the authority to harmonize and enforce all traffic rules and regulations to implement a unified traffic system throughout each of the metropolitan areas and implement programs that will have significant impact on addressing the traffic crisis.

The bill was approved on third and final reading of the House of Representatives while its Senate version reached the plenary but was not approved until the 17th Congress adjourned.

Although there is a need to resolve the worsening traffic woes in the country, the DOTr said that once the bill is refiled, they will not ask the president to certify it as urgent.

“Kung magkasundo po kami sa mga datos at detalye, hindi po ba mas magandang pumunta kami kay pangulo na handa na yung detalye kaysa blanket na hihingin na wala pang detalye?  Hindi ho ba mas magandang proseso yung ganun?” he said. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

2 new PNR trains to hit tracks on Dec. 16

Robie de Guzman   •   December 11, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The two sets of brand-new diesel multiple unit (DMU) motor cars of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) are expected to hit the tracks next week, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said.

The train sets were unveiled in an arrival ceremony held on Wednesday in Tondo, Manila.          

The DOTr said the train units, each with three coaches, will be fully operational by December 16. These will be deployed on PNR’s Malabon and FTI routes.

The train sets, which were acquired from Indonesian company PT Inka, has a minimum capacity of 752 passengers and are seen to increase PNR’s current daily passenger service rate of 65,000.

It will also add 18 to 20 trips per day to FTI-Tutuban and FTI-Malabon routes, increasing PNR’s operational capacity to better serve the public.

The PNR said four more trains with four coaches each are expected to be delivered next year.

These train sets are part of the 37 railcars and three locomotives procured by the PNR from PT Inka.

The unveiling ceremony of the new trains was attended by some Philippine and Indonesian officials, including Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Indonesian Ambassador Dr. Sinyo Harry Sarundajang, PNR General Manager Junn Magno, PT Inka representatives, and House Transportation committee chair and Samar First District Rep. Edgar Sarmiento.

DOTr’s TWG eyes 6-month extension of motorcycle taxis’ pilot implementation

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The inter-agency Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is eyeing to extend for six months the pilot run of motorcycle ride-hailing services in the country.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the DOTr said this is to allow the participation of new players in the study of the viability of motorcycles as a safe mode of public transportation.

The department said it has heard proposals on November 20 from six motorcycle taxi companies, namely, Citimuber, JoyRide, MoveIt, EsetGo, Sakay, and VroomGo, which are all aspiring to participate in the pilot run.

“We want to determine their operational readiness and compliance,” Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) member Antonio Gardiola Jr. said.

Gardiola, who heads the TWG, said the extension is seen as an expansion of the study and giving the riding public a wider choice, and “thus push the multiple providers to ensure a higher standard of service.”

He added that the pilot run extension also aims to provide the TWG more time to widen the scope of their study on appropriate standards and capacities for motorcycles to be considered safe, convenient, and eligible for franchise.

The TWG is composed of members that include representatives from the DOTr, LTFRB, Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic.

“We also want to determine whether or not motorcycles are really a safe and viable form of public transportation. That is always our priority — the safety, security, and comfort of the riding public,” Gardiola further stated.

In May, the DOTr allowed ride-hailing service Angkas to operate for six months as motorcycle taxi for six months starting June.

The pilot run was approved in aid of legislation for both the House of Representatives and the Senate to evaluate pending bills pushing for the legalization of motorcycles as public utility vehicles, as well as amendment of existing laws such as Republic Act No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

The TWG said it has already submitted its recommendation, and a decision on the proposed extension will be released in the coming days.

DOTr launches Cavite-Manila ‘water jeepney’ ferry service

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 9, 2019

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) officially launched the Cavite–Manila Ferry Service on Sunday (December 8).

Starting Monday (December 9), passengers can avail the ferry service from Cavite City Port Terminal going to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex in Pasay City, and to the Liwasang Bonifacio Terminal (Plaza Lawton) in Manila, and vice versa.

According to the DOTr, travel time from Cavite City Port Terminal to Liwasang Bonifacio Terminal is estimated at 40 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, travel time between the Cavite City Port Terminal and CCP, and vice versa, is around 15 minutes.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Secretary said the fares for both ferry services are still under negotiation. Tugade said that he will push for lower prices.

“Andito kami ngayon pagka’t hangarin namin na ilunsad at i-revive ang ferry operation ng Cavite. Itong operation ng Cavite ay matagal ding nawala, matagal ding nakalimutan, kaya sabi namin, umpisahan, buhayin, at itaguyod ulit iyong ferry operation ng Cavite, (We are here to launch and revive the ferry operation of Cavite. This operation in Cavite had long been gone so we told ourselves that we would revive this operation)” he said.

He also said that passengers can get a free ride from December 9 to January 9, 2020.—AAC

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