Banning provincial buses: Solution to Metro Manila's traffic problem?

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — As the Duterte administration sets into high gear, transport officials are looking for ways to solve one of Metro Manila's most pressing problems: heavy traffic.

That's why the Department of Transportation is thinking of removing bus terminals along EDSA. Provincial bus terminals would be removed and relocated, so buses can load and unload passengers away from Metro Manila's major thoroughfare.

In his first SONA, President Rody Duterte mentioned "immediately intensifying" the removal of bus terminals along busy roads like EDSA.

Banning provincial buses was first proposed in 2010 by former Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino.

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In 2013, former President Noynoy Aquino signed Administrative Order No. 40, which ordered the establishment of interim transport terminals (ITT) in North, South, and Southwest Metro Manila, as part of the Integrated Transport System project.

This was in preparation of the planned Integrated Transport System (ITS) project as decreed in Executive Order No. 67, series of 2012.

Specific agencies were tasked to develop the terminals: DOT for the North Terminal, the Department of Public Works and Highways for the South Terminal, and the MMDA for the Southwest Terminal.

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Where is the ITS now? Present MMDA Chairman Emerson Carlos said the project had seen plenty of delays and resistance from stakeholders.

Last year, Ayala Land won the South ITS project with a P4-billion bid. Beginning September, it will build an integrated bus terminal for buses from Laguna and eastern Batangas at the FTI Complex in Taguig.

Officials have yet to bid out the North ITS project, since they still have to decide on several issues, such as location.

As for the Southwest ITS, the MMDA will continue renting the Uniwide property along Coastal Road until the project terms are ironed out.

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Alex Yague, the president of the Provincial Bus Association of the Philippines, said they support the government's proposal of building the ITS.

But he said everything must be settled before the government closes existing terminals that have proper business permits. He said doing so would affect and dislocate provincial passengers entering Manila.

Despite the promised benefits of the ITS — light traffic, safer roads, reduced pollution — some commuters are worried that the new terminals won't be as accessible as the ones along EDSA.

"If I go somewhere else, it will be far and I could hardly walk farther because I'm sick," Daisy Upano, a provincial bus passenger, said.

CNN Philippines' Karmela Tordecilla contributed to this report