Out of curiosity, I went to the provincial-bus terminal in Parañaque on its opening day and, as is usual in such cases, there were opening-day blues. The whole place was in confusion. Arriving passengers from Cavite and Batangas didn’t know where to get their connecting buses to Manila. When they did find out, they had to walk a long distance to get there with all their bulky and heavy cargo. (Who is the passenger from the province who does not have heavy cargo?) Pity the senior citizens and the disabled.
And when they did get there, they had a difficult time finding rides to the inner cities. There were very few city buses, jeepneys and taxicabs waiting to take them to their destinations. Where were the huge city buses clogging Edsa with very few passengers? And it was “every jeepney driver for himself” in the loading zones. I think the Metro Manila Development Authority was so focused on the provincial buses that it forgot to make sure there were enough city buses there for the city-bound passengers.
As I see it, the first mistake was in the choice of the site for the terminal: near the Coastal Mall and the Mall of Asia. Because of the hordes of shoppers going to the malls and the hotels and casinos in the area, the only two streets leading to them are crammed with vehicles. Add giant provincial and city buses to these vehicles and you have a traffic gridlock.
A terminal for provincial buses should be set up outside city limits, where there is plenty of space, di ba? Provincial buses should stay in the provinces and city buses should stay in the cities.
This is why the MMDA should not go through with its plan to make Trinoma shopping mall in Quezon City as the terminal for buses coming from the north. At present, all the streets going to Trinoma (Edsa, and North, Mindanao, Visayas, and Quezon avenues, and Quezon Memorial Circle) are clogged with vehicles because of the three shopping malls there (Trinoma, SM North Edsa and The Block). Add thousands of provincial and city buses to the mix and you will have bedlam.
In trying to solve the traffic gridlock on Edsa, the MMDA is going to create a worse gridlock on several other streets. Pity the residents of subdivisions in the area who will be marooned in their homes by the thousands of vehicles blocking the roads in and out of their homes.
The terminal for provincial buses coming from the north should be located just after the toll booths of NLEx in Balintawak (or before it, where there is plenty of space).
As for the long distance that passengers have to walk to change buses, Chicago’s O’Hare Airport solved a similar problem through “walking sidewalks” that connect the international terminal to the domestic terminal. Passengers needing to change planes can just step on these sidewalks, which will “walk” them to the domestic terminal or vice versa. Maybe the MMDA should study this idea’s feasibility in its own bus terminals.
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Former squatters along the San Juan River are overjoyed at their brand-new homes in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, where they have been relocated without the violence that attended previous relocations. The hollow-block-and-galvanized-iron houses built for them by the National Housing Authority are neatly lined up on paved streets with plenty of open space and fresh air all around, unlike the cramped and unsanitary shanties along the riverbanks where they used to live miserable lives.
The village is situated on high ground so the residents are safe from the floods that they had to endure every rainy season at the San Juan River.
Each unit is tall enough to have a loft or a second floor, if the occupants so desire. They can also paint it any color they wish, and build cabinets, shelves and closets the way they want them.
The village will soon have a school for children. It will soon have electricity and water connections. Livelihood training and projects have been lined up to give the residents jobs. Tesda is planning to set up training centers.
Besides the brand-new houses that the residents will own after 30 years of paying only P200 a month, the families were each given P18,000 to tide them over the adjustment period.
Before they were relocated, the squatters were taken to the relocation site and allowed to choose their units. When they left, they already knew what units they will occupy and eventually own.
Now the squatters left at the San Juan River are eager to be relocated themselves.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, who visited the Inquirer offices one night last week to brief its editors, columnists, and reporters on their plans for the squatters, said those who do not want to be relocated to faraway places can choose in-city relocation. But they will have to organize themselves into groups, choose the site for a five-story condo building, and hire their own architects, engineers and contractors to design and construct the building. The government will lend them the money to buy the land and construct the building, which loan they will pay on installment without interest within 30 years. They cannot sell the rights to their units. If they move out, the government will award the unit to another family in the waiting list.
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KAPIHAN NOTES: The guests at Monday’s Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel are brand-new senators Nancy Binay and JV Ejercito, members of political dynasties in Makati and San Juan (and Manila), respectively.