Statement of Support for Reliable,
Affordable Public Transport Initiatives

We, the undersigned, commend the Administration and the Department of Transportation for taking steps to strengthen road-based public transportation – as well as active mobility (for cyclists and pedestrians) — which provide the greater majority of Filipinos – with only 6% of household owning cars and 37% owning motorcycles – affordable and reliable ways to get to work, school, recreation, and back to their homes and families in affordable and reliable ways. Their daily suffering is unconscionable.

We believe the following steps taken by the government will improve Filipinos’ productivity, incomes, and quality of life and help businesses expand, creating more and better jobs. They will also serve to protect the environment for ourselves and future generations by reducing carbon emissions. We pledge to support these by seriously considering participating in public-private partnerships and exploring other ways we can mobilize our organizations and workforces to further these goals.

1) Increasing the transportation budget 40% from P75 billion in 2022 to P106 billion in 2023.
Among others, this will help fast-track ongoing transport projects such as the North South Commuter Railway, the Metro Manila Subway, the LRT Line 1 Cavite extension, the PNR South Long-Haul, and the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit.

2) Increasing the number of road-based public transportation in the infrastructure flagship projects (IFP) list.  1
We believe rail projects and road-based projects have different advantages in addressing a range of transport needs. We believe one advantage of road-based public transport – e.g., buses and bus rapid transit – is that they are a quicker way to alleviate long-running commuter pain. We are pleased that DOTr, DPWH, and NEDA have included more of these projects under the 2023 IFP list – increasing the number of road-based public transportation and active transport infrastructure projects in the list from 6 (15% of DOTr projects) in 2021 to 25 (35% of DOTr projects) in 2023.

However, we note that the budget for all road-based transport (IFP and non-IFP) is down from P13.3 billion in 2022 to P6.1 billion in 2023. We look forward to more dialogue on this cut, including how the private sector can help fill any gaps. We also look forward to more dialogue on the budget for active transportation (for cyclists and pedestrians). This was cut from P2 billion – which helped develop 563 kilometers of bicycle lanes in NCR and other metro cities – to only P705 million.

3) Adding the following to the IFP list: EDSA Busway Project, EDSA Greenways, Fuel Subsidy for Public Transport.
We believe a properly designed EDSA Busway, with a genuine service-contracting system and coordinated with an upgrading of the MRT-3, can solve a significant part of Metro Manila’s transport issues and serve as a model for other routes. We believe EDSA Greenways can make public transport and walking safer and more convenient.

4) Committing for the second year that 50% of road space in all road projects will be allocated for public transport, pedestrians, bicycles, and other light mobility devices.
This is in the 2023 General Appropriations Act. This will help address the imbalance where public transport carries 70% of road travelers but only has 22% of road space in Metro Manila.

We look forward to discussions on Senate Bill 951 (LGU Transport Act)2 which aims to increase LGU authority, while strengthening coordination with national plans and projects.

In conclusion, we are keen to engage more closely with the Department of Transportation on improving mobility, especially for Filipinos reliant on public transport. We are always ready to provide feedback, ideas, and assistance to help the Department achieve its important goals. (END)

1 IFPs receive priority in budget preparation and review and processing of approvals:
2 authored by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian