THE chairman of the House committee on transportation has called on the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and
the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to require city buses plying the EDSA carousel lane to be equipped with speed limiters to avoid accidents as a result of overspeeding.
In a moto propio hearing conducted by his panel Thursday, Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, the panel chairman, reminded LTFRB Chair Martin Delgra and the LTO Chief Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante that the installation of speed limiters on all public utility buses is required not only because of the new bus set-up on EDSA but because this is provided under Republic Act (RA) No. 10916 or the Speed Limiter Law of 2016.
Under RA 10916, selected public-utility vehicles (PUV), except for taxis, jeepneys and so-called Transportation Network Vehicles (TNVs), closed commercial vans, cargo haulers, tanker trucks and company shuttles are required to be equipped with speed limiter devices so as not to exceed a pre-set speed limit.
Sarmiento lamented that the four-year old Speed Limiter Law has become a veritable “paper tiger” because government agencies that were tasked to implement it are not exercising their mandate provided by this particular piece of legislation.
He made this observation as Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jojo Garcia insisted during the committee’s Zoom hearing that there is nothing wrong with the barriers that were installed to separate the bus carousel lane from the rest of the other vehicle lanes.
Sarmiento said that there is no one to blame for the accidents involving buses in the carousel lanes but the bus drivers who go beyond the maximum speed of 50 kilometers per hour.
Garcia said that out of the 25,000 trips that were made by buses, there were only 6 accidents that have been recorded inside the bus carousel lane.
He said that this admission of the MMDA that the main reason for these accidents along EDSA’s bus carousel lane is overspeeding should prompt the LTFRB and the LTO to begin implementing RA 10916 to initially cover EDSA buses.
The lawmaker said that there is no need to immediately require bus companies to install electronic speed limiters because a simple mechanical contraption to limit acceleration should already suffice. He said that this can be fastened under the pedal to limit acceleration.
“There is an existing law, itong RA 10916, sana mabigyan po natin ito ng timeline kung kailan po natin ito ma-implement. The chair would like to suggest to start first with EDSA ang speed limiter natin. We might not have the device at the moment but so as not to come up with an additional burden to the different bus companies, pwede naman siguro nating gawan muna ng manual speed limiter,” Sarmiento said.
Sarmiento added that as an extra measure, the MMDA should make sure that the entire stretch of the EDSA carousel is no less than 3.5 meters in width to ensure that it is wide enough for buses to safely pass through.
And to ensure that the carousel buses are also safe from coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) transmission, Sarmiento said that bus drivers should be required to wear face shields and face masks and should undergo regular COVID tests.
Sarmiento maintained that the bus carousel system, which he had been pushing even before the Covid-19 pandemic, has been proven as a fast and efficient way of moving people and can be adopted as part of a metro-wide centralized and synchronized bus dispatch system similar to the one used by first world countries.