In the aftermath of the Buendia Bus Bombing, bus drivers have filed a petition to DOTC, requesting the agency to install security cameras inside all passenger buses in Metro Manila. MMDA even supports this initiative. (This is what I heard on TV Patrol World, when I wrote this entry.)
It’s about time we install security cameras inside buses, because the incident near the Buendia MRT station isn’t the first of its kind. However, don’t you think it’s inefficient to install cameras in each and every bus driving along EDSA? Given that there are so many buses driving in EDSA alone, exactly how many security cameras should be bought? Where and how would the videos captured by each of the security cameras be stored? There are even no security cameras inside MRT trains, and arguably in airplanes while in flight. (Planes only have black boxes to record flight conditions.)
I’m not saying that the initiative can’t be done, or is not good, or even far-fetched. For me, it’s just that there are too many buses in EDSA. The MMDA even struggles up to this day to control its number in EDSA at any given day, with the implementation of the color-coding scheme. In short, the initiative raises more questions than offering solid solutions.
So, here’s what I think. It’s been in my mind for the past year, and maybe it’s time that I suggest it. Why not centralize the EDSA bus system, likening it to the MRT-LRT system, and the bus system of Seoul, South Korea?
So how will a centralized EDSA bus system look like?
- Yes, there all still bus stations, but all buses are required to drop off and pick up passengers only on the bus stations. There would be MMDA personnel in each station to ensure this.
- Just like there are few trains in the MRT, there will be fewer buses in the Metro, but just enough to serve the huge number of passengers in EDSA.
- Of course, buses would be sorted and organized in a way that a passenger would know when a certain bus would arrive and depart. Now, the bus counters installed by the MMDA in each station would finally be utilized. In South Korea, GPS is installed in each bus, and is used to track the status of their bus system in a command center.
- In the current Organized Bus Route (OBR) system of the MMDA, buses are assigned two lanes in EDSA. In my suggested Centralized EDSA Bus (CEB) System, buses would pass through only one lane. This way, the traffic in EDSA might also be lessened.
- As a bonus, all buses in EDSA might be air-conditioned. An e-ticket just like in the MRT might also be possible. I also think of two grand bus stations or depots in the North and South of Metro Manila.
The only problems I see here (so far) are (1) exactly how many buses, and what will happen to the buses which will not be used, (2) what will happen to that bus companies, and how many buses from each company will be used in the CEB system (if they are even willing to), and (3) what will happen to the many drivers and conductors which will lose their livelihood.
Now, how would the CEB System help in preventing future bus bombings?
Just like in the MRT, passengers would be inspected first by MMDA personnel before entering the bus. Of course, it would be done in the stations. No inspection, no entry.
With fewer buses, installing security cameras would now be efficient. With fewer security cameras, storing the videos captured by each camera is manageable.
The CEB System also lessens the traffic in EDSA, by opening one more lane to private cars.
What do you think, guys?
Now, if the government still pushes for the installation of security cameras in every bus in the Metro:
As an IT guy, I can’t imagine how the concerned agencies would store large amounts of video, let alone monitor each bus. So maybe, I suggest that videos be stored onboard the bus in a hard drive (preferably a solid state drive, because the bus will “shake” on the road), and its videos replenished only every 30 or 60 days. Or maybe a solution like how a plane’s blackbox stores info.
Of course, accidents in buses don’t happen everyday, but pickpocketing modus operandi do. So, the replenishment period may not be a problem. In cases of explosion, the drive might be damaged, so maybe the drive could be stored in a steel case near the driver’s seat.
Do you have a better suggestion to the government, before it approves the security cameras initiative?