Transport group says banning PUVs on tollways contradicts policy

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Transport group says banning PUVs on tollways contradicts policy
Vehicles pass through the Skyway Stage 3. San Miguel Corp. said that will start collecting toll fees on the Skyway starting July 12, 2021, nearly seven months it allowed free use of the elevated expressway.
The STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — A group of transport experts and advocates on Monday urged authorities to revise its policy allowing private tollway operators to bar public utility and transport vehicles from using tollways, saying it violates the government's own transport policy. 

In a letter addressed to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and sent to media, the Move as One transport coalition reminded the Cabinet secretary of the National Transport Policy, which it said was "unambiguous on the priority enjoyed by public transportation over private cars."

"Tollway operators are permitted to bar public utility vehicles, such as buses and trucks, from using tollways. As a result, private vehicles have exclusive use of the infrastructure," Robert Siy, co-convenor at the Move as One coalition, said. 

"We request a revision of this policy so that public transport vehicles (i.e., buses, trucks, minibuses, jeepneys) are permitted to use tollways as paying customers."

To recall, San Miguel Corp. announced that it would ban trucks along the Skyway 3 project starting Monday, July 12. 

"Limiting Skyway 3 to regular or Class 1 vehicles will also further ensure safety for all users," SMC president and CEO Ramon Ang said in a statement issued Wednesday, July 7.

"With more private vehicles diverted to Skyway 3, our public roads will be freed up and decongested," he also said. 

As far back as March, groups have called for more public utility vehicles to be allowed to ply their routes once more, with 88 percent of households in the Philippines without cars reliant on public transportation. 

READ: Commuter group: Allow more PUVs before imposing number coding

What does the nat'l transport policy say?

The National Transport Policy, a public document approved under the Duterte administration, says in Section 7: “The focus is on moving more people than vehicles. Public mass transportation in urban areas shall be given priority over private transport.” 

Section 24 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations also says: “Public mass transportation in urban areas shall be given priority over private motor vehicles in the use of road space and all legal easements to ensure accessibility, convenience, reliability, safety, security, and fare competitiveness.”

The NTP was published in general circulation in February 2018. 

Siy, a transport economist, also pointed to the worsened traffic congestion and increased air pollution and carbon emissions "by encouraging greater private motor vehicle use" as a few "negative outcomes for our economy and society."

"The current practice of some tollway operators of restricting tollway access to private motor vehicles goes against stated government policy," Siy said. 

"It discriminates against the vast majority of Filipinos who are users of public transport; and it restricts the efficiency and productivity of the economy by preventing public transport, freight, and logistics firms from benefiting from major transport infrastructure."

Earlier this week, the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. said it observed an increase in traffic across its domestic tollways.

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