Terminal case

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    TIMED WITH the Giant Lantern Festival last Dec. 13 was the opening of the interregional terminal hub at Robinsons   Starmills.

    Although already the third in the country – after Robinsons Novaliches and Robinsons Place  Dumaguete – the Robinsons Starmills hub is in a league all its own as it will interconnect  Regions 1, 2, 3  and CAR with NCR and even Region 4 and 5.

    It will also host a shuttle service  to and from the Clark International Airport for seamless air travel for the areas it serves.

    In the offing is a lounge for CIA commuters,  and  free parking “in a well-lit and guarded lot so travellers can leave their vehicles and take the  shuttle to the airport.” 

    Some convenient – and safe – parking-and-flying there.  Robinsons Starmills with a designated 1,760-square meter   lot for the hub, makes an ideal location, indeed, being the virtual nexus  of the Olongapo-Gapan Road, aka  Jose Abad  Santos Avenue (JASA)

    And the North Luzon  Expressway (near the San Fernando Exit), onto the Subic-   Clark-Tarlac Expressway and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway. 

    Hence the inter-connectivity of   the four regions  north of Manila. With operating hours of 6a.m.—9p.m. daily, the terminal hub will have four ticket  booths, a  convenience store, a hobby shop, an appliance store, three ATM machines, and 12 food and  services    kiosks.

    Not to mention the regular shops and stalls in the mall. At Friday’s official opening, City of San  Fernando   Mayor Edwin Santiago was profuse with thanks to Robinsons Starmills and representatives of bus lines – notably  Genesis,  Victory Liner, Bataan Transit, First North Luzon, and Baliwag Transit – for the unified terminal  that truly   makes his city the gateway to North  Luzon and the heart of Central Luzon.

    In this respect, Santiago did one over  his  predecessor and mentor 3rd District Rep. Oscar S. Rodriguez who, during his mayorship,  established the City   Central Terminal at the  western part of the capital along JASA where all buses going through the city were enjoined to hub. 

    A defiant Victory Liner maintained its own terminal near the junction of JASA and the  MacArthur Highway in   Barangay DoloresWhen mayoral push turned to judicial shove though, Victory Liner opted to route its buses to  Robinsons Starmills to load and unload passengers.

    Victory Liner’s move to the Gokongweiowned  mall was   soon followed by other bus lines with SM City Pampanga as terminus.  And the City Central Terminal of   Rodriguez has  since fallen to disuse. Where Rodriguez obviously failed, Santiago  seemingly excelled.

    So all’s well  ending  well with the inter-regional terminal hub at Robinsons Starmills now? What is pure perfection on paper   though is  starting to get rip apart in actual application. 

    Already a choke point, the main ingress of vehicles to SM   City Pampanga from JASA was  further gridlocked when its opposite end on the Robinsons Starmills side was  made the direct  egress of buses from the terminal hub.

    With the Christmas shopping rush peaking, traffic at  various   times of day and night virtually stands still there.  It is not readily known whose bright idea was this.

    Prior to    the opening of the terminal hub,  buses from Robinsons Starmills made a U-turn at a small roundabout a kilometre  away in  Barangay Lagundi, Mexico and then proceeded  to SM City’s designated bus stops to load and unload  passengers too.

    The way the new traffic  set up goes now, SM City has been scratched off the buses’ route.  Not only  that. It is SM City too that suffers  more from the traffic gridlock, with its entry point routinely blocked.

     While  Robinsons Starmills’   egress, further west and directly opposite the NLEx exit, is easily accessible.  As much a    synergized traffic system as cutting edge marketing strategy looks the interregional  terminal hub to us. Great move,  Robinsons.

    Suffer now SM. Yeah, hosting the city government’s Giant  Lantern Festival and the Sinukwan  Festival  pays. Handsomely, at that.

    Pray and tell, CSF, this ain’t some payback,  er, instant ROI for investments in the  form of sponsorships to those events.    

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