Another change is coming
By Leonardo Micua
IT was quite uplifting in this stage of the pandemic to see one of five modern jeepneys providing daily free commute for medical health workers, essential workers and Authorized Persons Outside Residence along M.H. Del Pilar Street. It was plying around Dagupan’s Downtown Loop and towards the De Venecia Expressway and back.
Such a welcome sight gracing the streets of the city on a balmy weather was made possible by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade when he came to Dagupan City. He was in Pangasinan to inspect ongoing projects and to launch new ones – the “Libreng Sakay” program of LTFRB with the help of the local transport sector using newly modern jeepneys.
We were informed that the modern jeepneys are actually owned by the Bonuan Transport Service Inc. or BTSI, the same local company behind the taxis that can transport commuters from Dagupan to anywhere in Region 1. We also learned that five more of these will be arriving soon to thrill Dagupeños more.
What most do not realize is the fact that the development of transportation system in the city is already behind other cities in Region 1. Despite the Transport Modernization Program launched by DOTr and its attached agencies—LTFRB and LTO— the stakeholders in the city’s transport sector have not modernized their units. Like their counterparts in Metro Manila, they continue to negotiate for the extension of the grace period if only to delay the implementation.
As usual, we still have the dilapidated, rusty, and smoke-belching jeepneys that are lording over the roads in Dagupan and in the province. Thank God, there is BTSI that accepted the challenge of the DOTr to invest on taxis and this time, in modern jeepneys.
For after all, a city won’t be able to transition to being a smart city without modernizing its transport system that can hasten the mobility as well as increase the connectivity of its people.
We dare say that Secretary Tugade’s introduction of the “Libreng Sakay” was a master stroke, a momentum that will already be difficult for anyone in the city to stop.
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With Metro Manila now under the less restrictive General Community Quarantine and border control points have relaxed their protocols, Pangasinenses should press for their long overdue clamor to restore public transportation to and from Manila.
Since the start of the pandemic in March last year, Victory Liner, Dagupan Bus Inc., Five Star, Solid North and other bus firms maintaining their terminals in Dagupan have grounded their operations to a complete halt and already lost billions.
Fortunately, Mayor Brian Lim finally endorsed the petition of bus operators to resume the Dagupan to Manila public transportation. His endorsement was actually long overdue but it is better late than never. Many are hoping that after more than a year of being grounded in their stockyards, the buses will finally be out on the road to commute passengers to their destinations.
At Perez Boulevard and on Arellano Street, we can see buses of Solid North, many still looking brand new, parked in the terminal for a long time in what is beginning to appear like a graveyard for buses.
But as sure as the saying – the sun rises in the east – goes, the big buses are coming back soon. After all, it was Secretary Arthur Tugade himself who made the pledge it would soon be a reality in the next few days.
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There’s a rejoinder from Provincial Information Officer Butch Velasco to our report about 1,000 employees at the Provincial Capitol in Pangasinan rejecting vaccination. He said the number is actually only about 600. The 400 others simply indicated “undecided” as their reply to the survey questions given to them. It was Provincial Health Officer Dr. Anna de Guzman who mentioned the figure 1,000 during the Question Hour of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan last June 7.
Butch said the number is now actually lower than 600. Those who indicated they are either not going to submit themselves for vaccination or still undecided have already changed their minds after being persuaded by heads of offices. In fact, most are now excited to get the jabs.
Butch surmised it must be the social media that misled a number of capitol workers and other people into believing that vaccination is bad.
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ERRATUM: Our item in this corner that identified Secretary Raul Lambino, the administrator of the Cagayan Export Zone Authority, as regional PDP Laban Vice President was incorrect. He is actually the party’s national Vice President for internal relations. Our apologies.
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