Viewpoint: Safety of public buses a big concern for mountaineers

by Gideon Lasco,

The news of the death of 14 passengers in a bus mishap in Bontoc, Mountain Province is a big tragedy that should not be forgotten. It is not just that we lost Alvin “Tado” Jimenez, a friend of the environment and the mountains, whose gift of laughter and joy our country will sorely miss. It is not just that two foreigners were among the victims and surely the incident will be mourned in their countries accompanied by a loss of trust in our tourism infrastructure. And it is not just that we lost the 11 other passengers whose lives were equally valuable.

It is also because at the heart of the tragedy are violations of the law. License plates getting switched, chassis numbers tampered with, and buses that are unregistered for commercial use: these are not mere acts of negligence, these are deliberate acts. By tinkering with the identity of their buses, they have made themselves impervious to the last resort or safety: inspections that could have detected faulty engines, misaligned wheels, and other factors that could precipitate an accident. With Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap, we also wonder why the regulatory system, particularly the LTFRB, has failed to oversee the safety of these bus operations.

It is faulty logic to argue that these regulatory violations have nothing to do with the accident. Accidents do happen, but if buses are ill-equipped and not properly registered and inspected, if bus drivers are not trained and disciplined, then they are accidents waiting to happen. There was no typhoon or landslide to precipitate the recent accident. Even if there were unforeseen circumstance, we deserve the best effort, the best chances of survival, when things go wrong.

Mountaineers and outdoor enthusiasts take public buses every weekend. One can go to Cubao and Pasay on Friday nights and see the congregations of mountaineers in the terminals of bus companies.The Manila-Bontoc route is taken by those going to Mt. Napulauan, Amuyao, and more. By virtue of our numbers, we are at risk in these kinds of accidents with every week that the LTFRB fails to regulate and these companies fail to comply. We, as customers – in fact as one of the biggest groups of passengers in many routes – have the right to demand for better services. Safety should be the most fundamental service rendered.

Needless to say, what is at stake here is not just the safety of mountaineers, but of all our loved ones, our fellow travellers and passengers.

As hiking grows in popularity, the safety of mountains have come under scrutiny, and the recent tragedies involving hikers have received media attention. But for as long as the roads are far more dangerous than the mountains, our basic mountaineering courses, our safety practices, will be powerless to prevent the tragedies that can happen even before we can set foot on the mountains. This is why we should take a strong stand against negligent bus companies and call for an overhaul of the regulatory system that engenders these unfortunate events.

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6 Comments on "Viewpoint: Safety of public buses a big concern for mountaineers"

10 years 4 months ago

Sometimes we must look upon ourselves also. We have all the option to choose which bus company to travel with. Sometimes we even brag our road trip experience with speeding buses that we arrive ahead of time, we can always choose whats best for us. If there would be nobody patronizing these buses particularly these accident prone buses due to abusive drivers, then their business will die and inorder for them to revive it, they should replace all stupid drivers with most disciplined ones. Florida buses have the most number of accidents that has not been sensationalized or publicized because they can pay their victims. not until the issue of arvin jimenez. Should not have been with arvin, the issue would certainly die just like their previous accidents. I've seen these buses occupying the earnshaw street in manila with both lanes occupied. Despite numerous terminals along earnshaw and lacson st, they have garage in sta. Teresita st also in sampaloc. Despite continous horns from other vehicles using earnshaw st, they dont mind you at all. Instead , these driver will come out of the bus and yell at you with a pipe on their hand. There are other bus companies who strictly follow speedlimit. Not recommending though but I have observed their standard operating procedures. North bound buses to name a few includes:
Fariñas trans
Sta. Lucia express
Maria de leon
Candon bus line
Victory liner
Viron trans

All of which i have tried and enjoyed a safe trip. Except for this particular bus company florida, i rode twice and i will not ride again with a bad trip experience. Law enforcers, franchising regulatory, land transportation office May not be able to apprehend these companies, atleast we must be able to identify which one is more safe to travel with.

10 years 4 months ago

The safety of our transportation be it by land, sea or air is indeed a big problem for the traveling public. It was in the past, still is, and I'm afraid it will still be. I don't really know how the this problem can be solved under existing conditions.

10 years 4 months ago

Agree with this sir Gid! I also think that the regulatory body does not regulates at all! As you can see, it is not just the buses that have lapses. You will also notice in our version of jeep, the jitneys, in tricycles and all of the public vehicle you can ride in the Philippines the irresponsibility, from overloading, to over-speeding, to unchecked/maintained vehicles, even in the simplest customization of the ride to fit in more vehicles that might compromise comfort & higher the passengers' risk in safety, these are all true. And worst, it seems that MOST owners, drivers, and operators neglect to look into these aspects, as they are more of into the earnings. Accosting or confronting them will just give you negative respond, anger and mean look as if they are saying "you guys have no choice but to ride, just obey!". I'm not saying 100% are irresponsible, but for me MOST of them are not GOVERNED. In other nations, they have more organized transportation system. Their buses are monopolized and have time schedules, which reduced the traffic jams and made the passengers likewise be organized. And if any of bus arrived late, those in a hurry can pick a taxi and can be reimbursed by the bus company. Traffic violators are held when caught while they have passengers, instead, they mail a some sort of notice, more of a subpoena like. Why can't we have these stuff? I wish we can do something to move our countrymen.

10 years 4 months ago

Agree with this! I think the regulatory does not regulate at all! Yes, you can notice that not just in buses, but even our version of jeep, jitneys, even tricycles and in every public vehicle you ride here in the Philippines. MOST owners, drivers and operators only think about earning and they are compromising comfort, and worst safety of the passengers. From overloading, to over-speeding, to unchecked/maintained conditions of the vehicle, even in simplest customization of the ride to fit in more passengers without realizing that could higher the risk to their passengers…

I wish there is something to make this change.

10 years 4 months ago

It's just sad that somebody have to die first when action should have already been done as it's part of their job to make transportation as safe as possible. – Zhab, Regus Outdoor Club