Public transportation is a public good, and therefore should not be left to untrammeled markets to regulate.
That is in effect what has happened under our regulatory regime since the 1980s, as I have argued before.
The recent tragedy involving Don Mariano bus line which led to the death of 22 commuters is a grim reminder of the need to reform our public transport franchising system. Our bus lines are putting the riding public at risk with their reckless behaviour. They are becoming instruments of mass destruction, rather than mass transit. And the international media has started to take notice, which not only puts lives, but jobs at risk, due to the impact on tourism.
It is time to revoke the licenses of these transport operators who have continued to disregard traffic rules, like speed limits on skyways, in the pursuit of profit. They have already lost their social license to operate, it is time to revoke their legal right to do so. To allow them and the industry to continue down this road of destruction is just outright madness.
Our public regulator, the LTFRB must take a more proactive stance. They have already stated their intention to cull bus lines through natural attrition because of the over-servicing of certain routes, which along with the boundary system applied by bus lines, has led to the dangerous habits of drivers.
It is time for LTFRB to realise that this policy is irrational. We cannot wait for franchises to expire before taking action. Bus operators should be suspended in the first instance. Their entire fleet must be grounded until they are able to prove that they have dealt with safety concerns, either by changing their incentive package to drivers, or through driver re-education programs to avoid recidivism.
Once their franchise comes up for renewal, the number of traffic violations and accidents leading to injury and death must be taken into account. Operators who persistently violate traffic rules and place the public (both commuters and pedestrians) at risk, must not have their licenses renewed. It is time for the public transport regulator to show some resolve in dealing with this problem.