TO STEER clear its Ceres buses of road incidents in the future, the operator Vallacar Transit Inc. has instructed its drivers of 237 buses not to go beyond the speed of 40 kilometers per hour when they enter Cebu City.
This decision was reached during a meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 that was attended by Cebu City Government officials led by Mayor Edgardo Labella, and representatives from the United Drivers and Operators Cooperative and Traffic Patrol Group.
Labella warned the Vallacar Transit management not to break its promises or else he will be forced to bar its buses entry into the city to protect his constituents and non-residents who work in the city from road incidents.
“In case they will not follow their commitment, I will be constrained to let them stop plying the city routes because they were just given an opportunity to serve here in the city because of the pandemic,” he said.
Last Oct. 25, a Sunday, the collision of a Ceres bus and an ambulance in Barangay Carreta left nine persons injured.
Four days later, on Thursday, Oct. 29, a cyclist from Borbon town died after he was hit by a Ceres bus in Mandaue City. The incident was captured by the city traffic group’s surveillance camera.
Since August this year, Ceres buses have been involved in at least 10 road incidents, according to lawyer Jamaal Calipayan, executive director of the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue (Team).
On Friday, Oct. 30, another cyclist died after he was run over by another Ceres bus in Barangay Pitogo, Consolacion.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7 subsequently ordered a total of 300 Ceres bus drivers assigned in the Cebu North Bus Terminal to undergo a drug test and take a driving test following the road incidents.
At the Tuesday meeting with Labella and other officials, Vallacar Transit promised Ceres bus drivers will also observe the speed limit of 20 kilometers per hour if they are traversing roads in residential areas.
The speed restrictions have been implemented in Cebu City since April when the city was still under enhanced community quarantine, the strictest of all quarantine classifications.
Labella issued Executive Order No. 67 last April to prevent overspeeding. He has not repealed the order.
Also, in the meeting, it was known that Vallacar Transit had set a quota system that each of its drivers must fulfill within 16 hours.
This quota system of compensation for Ceres bus drivers and conductors will no longer be met as they will need more travel time to reach their destinations.
In a quota system, bus drivers and conductors are promised extra compensation if they are able to meet a quota of passengers for the day; this system has been blamed by local traffic experts as the leading cause of overspeeding and picking up passengers in illegal points.
Vallacar Transit also allowed the Cebu City Office for Substance Abuse Prevention to conduct surprise drug tests on its drivers.
“We expect them to comply with the commitment that they have manifested to us during the meeting. We reminded them that we give them this privilege in plying our city streets but they have to see to it that they are compliant with the guidelines and ordinances of the City of Cebu,” Labella said.
No roadside parking
Cebu City has been experiencing traffic woes since it was granted the less restrictive modified general community quarantine status since Sept. 1.
To give more space for traffic flow in the areas of Barangays Pardo and Bulacao, Ceres buses will no longer park on the roadsides. The buses will turn under a flyover in the Talisay City part of Bulacao.
Vallacar Transit will obtain a travel line, a document that specifies the route for a single bus. This is to prevent several Ceres buses from plying a single route that passes through narrow roads as this would cause heavy traffic.
A Vallacar Transit official who asked not to be named in this story said some Ceres bus drivers are from Mindanao. Not all are Cebuanos who know the road network in Cebu.
Labella has tasked the Cebu City Transportation Office to monitor Ceres buses, and the Vallacar Transit representatives promised not to break their promises.
Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes has called for a meeting with Vallacar Transit management on Thursday, Nov. 5. Officials from the Team and the City Planning and Development Office will also attend.
However, Calipayan said the Vallacar Transit officials have yet to confirm their attendance.
In a separate interview, lawyer John Eddu Ibañez, Cortes’ executive secretary, said they gathered the investigation reports on the traffic incidents since August.
He said they still have to validate these reports during the meeting.
The other reports that the City had received were about Ceres bus drivers’ habits of picking up passengers waiting far from bus stops and blocking of bicycle lanes.
Ibañez said they will air these concerns during the meeting if it pushes through. (PAC / KAL, KFD)