public transportation

Tugade seeks public understanding over long lines at EDSA Busway

Aika Rey
Tugade seeks public understanding over long lines at EDSA Busway

LONG LINES. This file photo shows commuters lining up at the Monumento bus stop of the EDSA Busway.

Rappler

The Department of Transportation is reviewing the free ride program for frontliners and authorized persons outside of residence

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has appealed for public understanding over the long lines at EDSA Busway stops, saying his department is already addressing the problem.

“Humihingi kami ng pangunawa at understanding sa mga mananakay at komunidad sa nangyayaring congestion. Ayaw namin ‘yan,” Tugade said on Wednesday, June 16.

(We are asking for the understanding of commuters and the community on the congestion they are experiencing. We don’t want that.)

Tugade said that the Department of Transportation is already discussing possible solutions, including reviewing the DOTr’s free ride program for health and economic frontliners and authorized persons outside of residence. The program is seen as a possible reason for the long lines.

He said the DOTr is looking into whether to stop the program and start charging commuters, or to expand the program to other transportation modes such as railways.

“Siyempre naman, kagaya ko rin, kung may libre doon ako sa libre kaysa magbabayad ako. Kung nagkaroon ng abnormal na congestion sa Busway, normal ang operation naman sa MRT3, LRT1, LRT2, kasi may pamasahe doon,” Tugade said.

(Of course, if it were me, if there are free rides then I would take that. So while there was abnormal congestion at the Busway, MRT3, LRT1, and LRT2 had normal operations because commuters had to pay for their fare.)

Note that since the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board rationalized the bus routes in Metro Manila in 2020, commuters only have to choose between the Busway or the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 to travel through EDSA.

So far, 550 bus units were authorized to serve the route. The department pushed bus operator group Mega Manila Consortium Corporation to deploy the maximum number of units under its contract, especially during rush hour. The consortium has so far pledged to add 15 more buses along the route.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor also said that the DOTr opened extra boarding gates at Monumento and the Paranañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange so that three buses will simultaneously load passengers at a time.

Pastor added that the DOTr has five “skip buses,” ready to be deployed when there are long lines.

Photos showing long lines at EDSA Busway stops have recently gone viral, prompting the DOTr to address the issue.

Commuter groups have since warned the department of the lack of transportation supply particularly along EDSA as buses run at half their capacity. This means more buses have to be contracted to address the needs of a reopening economy.

Businesses had also pointed out that public transportation is critical if the government wants the pandemic-ravaged economy to bounce back. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.