Briones: The case of the missing buses

Nini Cabaero
·3 min read

SO where were they?

A few nights ago, a friend at work ended up waiting almost four hours to get a ride home because there were hardly any public utility buses around. Thankfully, another colleague had her picked up and brought her to her house.

But not everyone was so “lucky.” I mean, there were many others who shared her predicament. Some probably couldn’t wait any longer and started to walk home. Others might have braved sleeping on the sidewalks until a bus finally came. Either way, their ordeal came to pass but hopefully, for their sake, it wouldn’t happen again.

You see, commuters shouldn’t be held hostage by a company that is mandated to serve them.

At any rate, the arrangement is not permanent. So the public can rest assure that they will get better service in the future because they deserve it. Fingers crossed. I mean, it’s not as if the buses of Ceres Liner will be used when the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit System is finally implemented. Right?

Anyway, the Cebu City Government has not issued travel lines to Ceres Liner of Vallacar Transit Inc. In fact, Ceres buses are only plying the city’s streets in the absence of traditional jeepneys, which have not been allowed to operate since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

By the way, I’m not here to paint Ceres Liner as the bad guy. Really. I’m here to explain where its buses were on Wednesday night, Nov. 4, 2020, which left hundreds if not thousands of commuters stranded in public transport terminals for several hours. Certainly not an ideal situation while the whole country is trying to protect its citizens from a potentially fatal disease, but that’s what happened.

According to Eduardo Montealto Jr., director of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7, the drivers of Ceres Liner underwent a refresher training program and a drug test that day.

Montealto should know because it was his office that ordered a total of 300 Ceres bus drivers to go through the refreshing training program and the drug test following a spate of road accidents involving Ceres buses. His office just didn’t reckon that all would heed the order at the same time. So maybe not all, just 50 on that particular day, but that’s still 50 buses that were not able to ferry commuters to their destinations.

But there still should have been a warning. Or a public advisory, at least. Vallacar Transit should have given local government units a heads up to deal with the situation and prevent mass gatherings.

But hey, I have to give it to the bus company for immediately addressing the problem at hand. It wasn’t as if it was flexing its muscles to show authorities what would happen if they continued to hound it with criticisms.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that. At all.

And just in case Metro Cebu experiences a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, at least we’ll know how that happened.