A protesting transport group failed to paralyze the public transportation during the morning rush hours during the first day of the strike in the National Capital Region (NCR) on Monday, Nov. 20, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said.
Jeepney drivers hold action near on Agoncillo Street in Manila on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, the first day of the three-day strike initiated by PISTON to protest the mandated consolidation of all jeepney drivers and operators into a corporation or cooperative as a requierment for the PUV Modernization Program. (Arnold Quizol)
MMDA chairman Don Artes said they have been monitoring the situation even before the start of the morning rush hour and the report they received from the field was that there were enough vehicles that transported commuters to their respective destinations.
“We can categorically say that the public transportation was not paralyzed based on our monitoring. We can also say that maybe what happened in some areas was part of the morning rush hour traffic,” said Artes.
In fact, Artes said only 66 of the 686 vehicles they prepared for free rides were used on Monday morning.
He explained that part of their preparation during the weekend was to preposition the vehicles from MMDA, local government units and other government agencies in areas where there is usually a build-up of commuters.
Based on the strategy, vehicles from MMDA are immediately deployed in areas where there was already a build-up of commuters.
“We don’t want the build-up of commuters in any area so the moment our teams on the ground would report that there was already a build-up of 30 to 40 passengers in one area, we would immediately deploy the vehicles in the nearest prepositioned area for the free ride,” said Artes.
Artes said the 686 vehicles they prepared will be on standby in the remaining two days of transport strike in Metro Manila.
“We are ready for the duration of the three-day transport strike,” said Artes.
Based on the MMDA data, the affected areas during the morning rush hours were San Andres Bukid, Monumento, Muntinlupa Alabamg Zapote Road, Monumento Acacia, Ligaya (Pasig- Marikina), Monumento Dagohoy/Samson Rd, Alabang Viaduct (near Star Mall, Baclaran Service Rd. (near Metrobank), Araneta E. Road, Kamias Road and Anonas/Tindalo.
The MMDA said several vehicles were deployed in the affected areas for the free ride.
In the Pasig-Marikina route for instance, at least 80 commuters availed of the free ride while 65 passengers were assisted in Monumento-Acacia-Malabon route.
Let them earn
Artes explained that they did not fully deploy all the vehicles they prepared in order to ensure that the jeepney drivers who did not join the strike would still earn money for the day.
“If we would deploy all of the 686 vehicles for the free ride, these drivers who did not join the transport strike would suffer because naturally, the passengers would choose the free ride,” said Artes.
On Sunday, Nov. 19, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRGV) chairman Teofilo Guadiz III said major transport groups in the country have expressed commitment that they will not join the transport strike led by the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON).