By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
A coalition of transport advocates is urging authorities to implement “service contracting” to ensure a safe, sufficient, and stable public transportation system as mass transit remains insufficient due to restrictions amid the global pandemic.
In a statement on Wednesday, Move As One Coalition said the reduced seating capacity on public transportation has undermined the financial viability of the industry, and emphasized that many operators and drivers are “expected to suffer losses and go out of business, which will further reduce public transport supply.”
“To avoid this risk, the government should move immediately to charter or contract public transport operators and pay them on a fee per day or fee per kilometer basis, with all fare revenue collected by the government,” the coalition stated.
Move As One explained that service contracting will stabilize the earnings of public transport operators since their income will no longer depend on the number of passengers, and they will not be forced to stop operations due to income losses.
The group also suggested that local governments should be permitted to collect fares and pursue public transport service contracting in a bid to facilitate responsiveness to local conditions.
The coalition also highlighted the need to adopt a smooth transition for the public transport industry.
“Existing operators and drivers should be part of any new public transport arrangement. Furthermore, the deadline for industry consolidation should be extended. Vehicle modernization should offer greater stability and prosperity for all, without leaving any group behind, ” it said.
Aside from service contracting, the group also called on the national and local government to invest in high-quality pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, bike sharing and bike rental programs, and the installation of bike racks to further promote active transport modes such as walking and cycling.
“Given that it may take time to substantially augment the supply of public transport vehicles, safe and spacious walking and cycling corridors should be created so that people will be able to travel on safe walkways and an interconnected network of bike lanes to reach their destinations,” it explained.
“Promoting the use of bicycles will bring about huge advantages in terms of reducing traffic and congestion,” the group added.