MANILA, Philippines – The government’s new express bus service along EDSA began its pilot run on Monday, March 23, with transport authorities hoping the new service will attract car owners to take the bus and reduce road congestion.
Some of the first passengers of the Express Connect bus service said they were pleased with the comfort and convenience of their bus ride, but it remains to be seen whether it will significantly cut commuters’ travel time.
Fifty buses participated in the initial run of the service, a joint project of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
During the launch at the MMDA dispatch terminal in Fairview, Quezon City, LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez said the express bus service aims to cut commuters’ usual travel time by 30 minutes.
The buses, which currently ply 3 routes – from Quezon City to either the Ayala central business district or SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City – will also be allowed to use the underpasses along EDSA and mixed traffic lanes to speed up travel.
“Ang layunin po natin ay matugunan ang pangangailangan ng isang mas mabilis at more convenient at comfortable na pamamaraan na pagbabyahe ng ating mga mamamayan,” Ginez said.
(Our goal is to address the concerns of the public with a more convenient and comfortable way of travel.)
Boarding time was fast, based on this writer’s experience riding an E1 bus, which travels from Fairview to Ayala Avenue, with a stop in Ortigas. Buses are only allowed to pick up passengers if there are still available seats.
It’s a welcome rule for bus passenger Mark Legazpi. “Dito at least nakakaupo ka, nakaka-idlip ka, not like sa ibang bus na siksikan. Dito, okay ka.” (Here, at least you can sit down, take a nap, unlike in other overcrowded buses. You’re okay here.)
He added, “I’ll try this for one week, and if it’s okay, I’ll choose to ride this.”
The express bus promised to reduce travel time, but rush hour traffic still impeded the speed of the bus.
The most congested part of the trip was the Quezon City circle and along the stops in EDSA. This writer started logging time at 6:13 am, when the bus left the Fairview terminal.
The recorded travel time for an E1 bus from Fairview to Ortigas takes about two hours and 20 minutes based on the timer.
Some passengers though were not aware of the new express service, with government employee Rowena Serocho complaining that the sign boards marking the participating buses were too small.
Ginez promised to improve the information campaign to prevent confusion among passengers.
“Sa ngayon ay may kalituhan pa rin ang mga pasahero natin, hindi pa rin nila alam na dapat ilan na lang ang dapat p’wede nila babaan, so hopefully kasama pa rin yan sa ating information campaign within the next few days,” he said.
(There’s still confusion among passengers, they don’t know that there are only limited stops. That’s part of our information campaign within the next few days.)
The buses will operate daily starting from 5 am to 9 pm, the DOTC said.
It will ply these routes:
- E1: Fairview – Megamall/Ortigas area – Ayala Avenue/Buendia (Gil Puyat) Avenue
- E2: Fairview – Ayala
- E3: Fairview – Ayala MRT station – Mall of Asia
Passengers can board the buses from the MMDA’s dispatch terminal in Fairview, Quezon City, and at designated terminals.
The DOTC said it will be monitoring the operations of the bus service over the next two months.
Passengers are encouraged to send feedback about their riding experience to firstname.lastname@example.org. – with reports from Katerina Francisco/Rappler.com