To say that commuters that rely on provincial buses in order to travel to and from work in Metro Manila are currently having a hard time is an understatement.

This all started when the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) implemented a window hour policy for the provincial buses. Under the said scheme, these buses are only allowed to travel in Metro Manila between 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM.

This earned the MMDA the ire of the commuters as the window hour policy makes things difficult for workers who have to catch a provincial bus outside the usual business hours. As a result, some commuters said they now have to bring their own vehicles to work which further adds to the Metro Manila traffic. Meanwhile, some say they are forced to find different means of transportation just to get to and from work.

Seeing the reactions of netizens and commuters, MMDA Chairman Romando Artes released a statement to clarify that provincial buses plying Metro Manila routes are available to commuters at all hours. However, these buses are required to terminate their routes at the two major land terminals in the region outside the 10:00 PM to 5:00 PM window hours.

He also mentioned that provincial buses are required to drop off the last passengers at the North Luzon Express Terminal (NLET) and at the Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) outside the said window hours based on existing policies of the LTFRB.

MMDA clarifies provincial buses are available at all hours image

“Provincial buses are not prohibited from operating beyond the said window hours, provided that they do not terminate the trips at their own terminals, and instead use the integrated terminals,” said Artes.

The LTFRB also mentioned yesterday that provincial bus operators may only use their own terminals from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM. However, this doesn't mean that provincial buses are only allowed to run during the said window hours.

But seeing that both commuters and provincial bus operators/drivers are still confused about the said policy, the MMDA has also considered extending the window hours. According to MMDA General Manager Frisco San Juan Jr., they are already considering giving provincial bus operators a longer window in order to pick up and drop off passengers at their private terminals.

With MMDA clarifying the issue regarding the window hour policy for provincial buses, does this mean commuters who rely on these buses will now have an easier time catching a ride to and from work? We'll find out soon enough.