EDSA bus consortiums summoned for deploying few units, non-payment of drivers, conductors

Published October 19, 2021, 7:47 AM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Monday, Oct. 18, issued a show cause order against two consortiums operating along the EDSA Busway for deploying insufficient numbers of buses on the route and for not paying the salary of their drivers and conductors under the “Libreng Sakay” program.

Commuters line up to board a bus along EDSA as the government enforces movement curbs against the coronavirus outbreak in this August 2021 file photo (Mark Balmores / Manila Bulletin)

“[We have directed] the two consortiums running the EDSA Busway why their franchise or special permit in running the EDSA Busway should not be cancelled, suspended, or that they be not penalized for deploying so few units,” LTFRB Chairman Martin B. Delgra III said in a virtual media briefing.

Delgra said the Mega Manila Consortium and the ES Transport and Partners Consortium only deployed an average of 160 units on Monday out of the 531 buses granted with Special Permits to operate on the route.

According to Delgra, the low turnout of bus units along the EDSA Carousel Route has been resulting in long passenger queues, particularly at the Monumento Station.

The LTFRB chief also noted that the agency already paid the two consortiums for the Service Contracting Program, but there are still “persistent reports” on unpaid drivers and conductors.

“We have paid so much of this to operators already, particularly for the EDSA Busway Consortium,” he told reporters.

Delgra called out the consortiums and reminded them to be responsible on their obligations as employers under the Labor Code for the EDSA Busway Free Ride Program.

“Mayroong kakulangan ang mga bus operators dito sa hindi pagbabayad ng mga sweldo ng kanilang mga tauhan (The bus operators have its shortcomings for not paying the salaries of their employees). There is an employee-employer relationship between the bus operators and the drivers and conductors they hired,” he said.

“This is just not a contractual obligation but it is also an obligation that is mandated under the labor code. Kailangan nilang bayaran ang sweldo nila. Kikita man o sa palagay nila ay malulugi, kailangan pa rin silang bayaran (They have to pay their salary. Whether they earn or go bankrupt, they still have to pay them),” Delgra added.