MMDA’s ‘Bus Prohibition’ Scheme and its Unintended Consequences

Do prohibitionists in the MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) really think their ban on provincial buses will ease traffic in the metropolis?

I doubt it!

In the field of economics and social sciences we have what they call the law of unintended consequences.

This law was best explained by French political and legal theorist Frédéric Bastiat who distinguished in his writing between the “seen” and the “unseen”.

In his famous essay “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen,” Bastiat wrote:

“There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.”

Applying this law of unintended consequences to the ban, the prohibitionists only see the effect of one type of public transport (e.i., buses) on Metro Manila’s worsening traffic without considering the long-term impact and consequences of their policy.

This is why this madness makes me laugh and annoyed at the same time. I had the following observations, which I first posted on Facebook:

First. We’re not a federal country, right? While I understand we have toll roads, the ongoing ban on provincial buses makes me think now have “interstate” restrictions. Also, isn’t this a clear, blatant violation of the equal protection clause in the Constitution?

Second. Will this ban escape the law of unintended consequences? Like I said, I don’t think so.

The prohibitionists in the government claim this is to decongest traffic in the metropolis. But since this targets or affects a larger number people (public commuters), the “victims” would be encouraged to buy second hand cars, thus making traffic problems in Metro Manila worse!

Thus, the beneficiary sectors would be as follows:

  1. Second hand car companies. This is a great opportunity for used car sellers.
  2. New transport schemes will emerge (e.g., colorum FX, unlicensed vans, etc.) There are already for-public-transport vans in the provinces. Yes, this is a great opportunity for “alternative” transports.
  3. Kotong police

The political prohibitionists must have underestimated the ingenuity of some “madeskarteng pinoys” to think of and offer alternative modes of transportation to the “victimized” public commuters. Just give it a few weeks and a new transport model will emerge. Indeed, this bus prohibition scheme has created a new demand.

Third. No, this has nothing to do with “class warfare” as some netizens would like to suggest. This is just one example of bureaucratic malaise.

Get ready for

Get ready for “alternative” public vehicles.

Fourth. The ban is doomed to fail. As already stated, it will create unexpected problems the prohibitionists failed to anticipate.

Here’s a related story from Interaksyon:

MANILA – Thousands of carless commuters from Cavite were stranded and delayed for work or school on Tuesday, the first day of the enforcement of the ban for provincial buses coming from Cavite from entering the metropolis.

The ban, imposed by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), aims to ease traffic.

Anna Patricia Vitug, a sophomore at the University of the East who lives in Dasmarinas, Cavite, said the situation was “chaotic.” She said the MMDA people who changed the system should have tried commuting first so that they understand the situation of the carless masses.

“They should have at least consulted the commuters,” she said.

According to the MMDA, all buses from Cavite will have to park at the Coastal Mall at the corner of Roxas Boulevard and MIA Road. Commuters, it said, can then transfer to jeepneys, vans, or other buses to get to their destination in Metro Manila.

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