Group suggests fixing EDSA busway problems through privatization

A group of businessmen is eyeing legislation to privatize the EDSA Busway transport system to “scale up its capacity” and provide improved commuter service and convenience.

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, Management Association of the Philippines president Rogelio Singson and MAP Infrastructure Committee chairperson Eduardo Yap said the government should prioritize the total system upgrade of the EDSA busway and bus service on the “Carousel Line.”

“The upgrade will complete the EDSA busway, a work-in-progress, scale up its capacity and raise it to the level of global standards to optimize the system to achieve its full potential as a cost-effective, efficient, high-capacity urban mass public transport system commensurate to the high-commuter density of EDSA, and, as well, to ensure long-term sustainability to ably serve its role as the complementary mass transport to the MRT3,” the group added.

In addition, the MAP suggested the augmentation of vehicles in the EDSA Carousel, MRT3, LRT2, LRT1 and PNR Commuter lines when conditions in their respective stations allow, as these lines should have the shortest waiting time for commuters during rush hours.

Hybrid mode

Moreover, MAP also urged the DOTr to consider the privatization of the EDSA busway and bus service, and urban commuter rail systems, consisting of the MRT3, LRT2 and PNR Commuter lines, under the so-called hybrid mode.

The hybrid mode will make the government provide the infrastructure and its improvements. At the same time, a private concessionaire will operate the service and maintain the facilities under an operation and maintenance concession.

“MAP has offered to work with the DOTr and other private sector stakeholders in preparing the terms of reference for the bidding and award of the concessions to ensure a level playing field for all. MAP assured Secretary Bautista of its support in assisting the DOTr to fulfill its mandate and commitment to providing efficient mass public transportation that is up to global standards,” the group’s letter stressed.

More stations

Also, the Singson-led business group wants to increase the capacity of station platforms to accommodate a more significant number of commuters, enable the simultaneous docking of buses and construct more stations to close the gap between stations and footbridges with a concourse dedicated to the busway.

“(We also suggest) expediting the construction of donated busway station footbridges; resolving chokepoints along the carousel line; replicating the busway in other major commuter corridors in the National Capital Region (NCR); providing ease of bus-to-train connectivity; providing bus exchange stations for trunk-to-feeder line transfer.

“Decongest the Ayala stations and McKinley Road by providing an alternate route from Bonifacio Global City to Buendia stations, and introduce modern high-capacity bi-articulated electric commuter busses to optimize the full potential of the busway,” the MAP letter read.

“One essential recommendation that deserves special mention is the issuance of an Executive Order by President Marcos Jr. to enjoin all relevant agencies to comply with the National Transport Plan of 2017, particularly to prioritize people mobility through public transportation and active mobility, such as walking and biking, by prioritizing the allocation of road space for such purposes,” the group added.

Currently, busway station platforms and sidewalks are very narrow and grossly inadequate. The space required for them was allocated instead to augment private vehicle lanes under a misguided car-oriented road management policy.

Earlier, the Department of Budget and Management released a P1.4 billion fund for the Service Contracting Program that will secure free rides for commuters in Metro Manila until December this year, following the appeal of commuter groups to extend this because of the rising prices of essential commodities caused by inflation.

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