February 9, 2023

Even under modified community quarantine, commuting in Baguio and outlying Benguet towns such as La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay is still inconvenient.
The difficulty in commuting is no longer due to the quarantine but to the experimental scheme set by the city government where loading and staging areas of jeepneys have been transferred far from the city center.
In online forums and lately at the city council, affected residents said city officials lacked compassion to people who avail of mass public transport vehicles.
They complained the scheme is burdensome to those who regularly commute especially to senior citizens, persons with disability, and those who come from the market or grocery stores where they have to walk longer and uphill while carrying several kilos of products they bought.
Residents of LISTT said the scheme compels them to take two rides, one from their point of origin, to the central business district or vice versa. Those from La Trinidad for instance, now unload passengers at the Slaughterhouse terminal, instead of at the Dangwa terminal or at the Centermall.
Businessmen especially those at Magsaysay Avenue, Lakandula Street, and Rajah Matanda Street also said that the transfer of jeepney staging areas to the Gov. Pack terminal and Sandico Street tended to favor businesses that are located along Session Road, as well as SM Baguio, which is located only a few meters at said terminals.
“Why would customers still buy from us, when they have to carry the products they buy all the way to their new loading area. The tendency is to buy at the nearest store. Kawawa naman kaming mga nandito sa baba. Puro sa taas na sila bibili,” a department store representative said in the meeting organized by officials of Barangay Kagitingan last Aug. 18.
Relocation of staging areas is also ill-timed, especially at a time when the public is still at the stage of recovering from unemployment and closure of establishments, due to the lockdown.
Baguio City Police Office Traffic Management Unit head Maj. Oliver Panabang and Traffic and Transportation Management Division head Januario Borillo recognize the plight of commuters but said relocation of loading areas is one of the measures implemented by the city government to decongest the CBD, as well as to improve air quality.
Panabang said advantages of the new scheme outweigh the inconvenience experienced by commuters at present.
“Marikna yon to ti nagbaliwan ti traffic situation tayo nu agsubli tayo ti normal,” Panabang said. He added, the public will soon get used to this setup.
Borillo also explained the scheme is a component of the public transportation management plan of the Department of Transportation, which mandates local government units to come up with a route management plan.
“It is not only Baguio. Even our neighboring towns have to come up with their traffic management plans,” Borillo said, adding that inevitably, commuting in Baguio will soon become a two-ride system.
In the proposed route rationalization plan of Baguio, the 53 major routes will be trimmed to 11 routes.
The proposed plan will undergo public consultation before submission to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board for review and approval before to final implementation. – Rimaliza A. Opiña