The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) began implementation of their new Bus Management and Dispatch System (BMDS) this week to regulate the number of public utility buses (PUBs) plying on EDSA but also monitors the drivers manning them. The program will be pilot-tested at the MMDA bus dispatch terminal in Fairview, Quezon City, with twelve more satellite stations to be established in key locations within Metro Manila later this year. 

"Using biometrics or finger scanning to monitor bus drivers, the BMDS is the first bus reduction program that ensures the safety of commuters that patronize public buses," MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said. 

BMDS is a much improved system similar to the Organized Bus Route where PUBs are dispatched from four MMDA terminals, partnered with the private sector, based on passenger demand and current traffic situation in a given day.

"Our aim is to instill discipline among PUB drivers and make them aware that we at the MMDA, together with other agencies, are capable of monitoring them, especially their driving behavior," Tolentino added, noting the spate of fatal road accidents last year involving PUBs.

Under the new BMDS, PUB drivers will now be required to finger-scan at the dispatch terminals before being allowed to ply their routes. The MMDA has created a PUB Driver's Databank which contained the personal information of each registered driver, the bus company where he is employed, and even the number of his unsettled traffic violations. This is to ensure that the drivers are qualified to be operating a bus which carries hundreds of commuters daily.

A total of 3,471 city buses operated by 105 firms are registered in the database, which is also linked with other concerned agencies such as the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transport Franchise Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). 

To ensure drivers are qualified and are in strict compliance with traffic regulations, only those with less than three pending traffic violations will be dispatched from the terminal; those with more than three will be required settle their traffic violation tickets first before being allowed to ply their routes.

At each BMDS terminal, public buses will be fielded every 10 minutes during peak hours and 15 minutes during non-peak hours. The system is expected to signficantly cut the excess number of city buses in operation and hopefully rid Metro Manila of colorum buses.

At present, MMDA has four major dispatch terminals: South Station in Alabang, and Coastal Mall in Paranaque in the South; and Malabon, and Robinson's Fairview in the North.