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Locating central bus station at VMMC a bad idea

/ 12:06 AM November 21, 2014

Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya has come up with another harebrained idea: Make a portion of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City the central station for buses coming from the north. City buses will also converge there to take passengers from the provinces to their destinations in Metro Manila.

The trouble with most government officials like Abaya is that they make decisions while ensconced in their comfortable, air-conditioned offices. They look at papers and maps and then say: “That’s it, we will put the central station there. There is plenty of space.” They don’t bother to go to the site and its environs to find out the actual situation on the site.

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If Abaya had visited the site, he would have seen that the streets leading to the VMMC are already crowded with vehicles. The Elliptical Road (around the Quezon Memorial Circle) and all the seven avenues radiating from it are always congested with traffic. Imagine what would happen if you add those giant provincial and city buses going to the VMMC central station. It would be much worse than Edsa which, by the way, also leads to the VMMC. The traffic gridlock would extend for kilometers on all the streets leading to and near the VMMC. The

Elliptical Road and all its radials would just be one big parking lot. Residents living in nearby subdivisions would not be able to leave their homes in the morning or go home in the evening because all the streets would be blocked.

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Abaya did not even consult the residents of the nearby villages and the business establishments in and around them before announcing his harebrained idea. These residents and business establishments should protest and oppose his idea, or they would be marooned in their homes. The Quezon City government should also register its opposition; otherwise, it would be saddled with the traffic problems of the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Metro Manila Development Authority.

Yes, the idea has a good purpose: to prevent provincial buses from adding to the traffic congestion in the inner cities. But it would only transfer the gridlock to and around the Elliptical Road.

Abaya probably thought the VMMC, being beside Mindanao Avenue which leads to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), would be the best place for a central station where provincial and city buses can exchange passengers. No, sir.

The correct place for a central station for provincial buses is outside the city limits, where there is plenty of space. That’s why they’re “provincial buses”—they serve the provincial folk. “City buses,” on the other hand, serve those going to the inner cities.

The central station should be situated before or just after the toll booths of NLEx in Balintawak, where there is plenty of space for provincial and city buses to exchange passengers.

The only entity that would be benefited by Abaya’s misplaced brainchild is Ayala Land’s Trinoma shopping mall, which is just across the street from the VMMC. It seems all of Abaya’s ideas are calculated to benefit Ayala.

Is it plain luck?

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When Abaya decided on the location of the common station for the new Cavite-Parañaque MRT line, he put it in Trinoma in spite of the fact that the DOTC and the National Economic and Development Authority had already decided to put it in SM North Edsa, Trinoma’s competitor. The contract for the common station and the new MRT line to Bulacan has been awarded to San Miguel Corp., which was made to pay P200 million for the common station for which foundations have been completed.

Suddenly, when the Cavite-Parañaque line was rebid (because no developer joined the bidding), the common station was packaged with the line. The Ayala consortium, the only bidder, won the bidding.

What is strange is that the common station is six cities away from the Cavite-Parañaque line. The line ends in Baclaran, but the common station is in faraway Quezon City. What has the Cavite-Parañaque line got to do with Quezon City?

Is that the reason Ayala made a bid for the line that no other developer wanted to touch—that the common station would be located in Trinoma? It is no secret that an MRT station, especially where three LRT-MRT lines will converge, would greatly benefit the mall where it is located, and more so if a central station for provincial and city buses is located just across the street from it. How many reasons does Abaya have to always favor Ayala?

Note that Abaya’s handling of the DOTC has been disappointing since he took over its helm. The MRT 1, which is operated by the DOTC, has been unable to solve its problems, to the detriment of its millions of passengers. In comparison, the LRT line on Rizal and Taft avenues, which is not run by the DOTC, does not have similar problems. The Land Transportation Office cannot provide vehicle owners with their license plates. A jeepney organization wants to voluntarily reduce fares because fuel prices have gone down, but the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board refuses to allow it. All of these agencies are under the DOTC run by Abaya.

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TAGS: central bus station, DOTC, Joseph Abaya, MMDA, traffic, Transportation, VMMC
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