Temporary scheme involves 9 bus stops
Before the “transformation” of Edsa — complete with exclusive bus and bike lanes — promised by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade in May is fully realized, a temporary scheme will be implemented to ease and speed up the commute on Metro Manila’s busiest road, officials said on Wednesday.
The “interim” plan includes a couple of loop routes and buses picking up passengers as usual from the curb, a departure from the earlier plan announced by Tugade late in May in which the inner lane would be used exclusively by buses.
As a result, buses would go back to their old lane in two sections of Edsa to load and unload passengers at a total of nine bus stops, according to Celine Pialago, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
The first set of six bus stops to be served by the buses that would ply the entire length of Edsa up to Mall of Asia (MOA) would be from Monumento to Quezon Avenue.
From the Quezon Avenue stop, the buses would cross Edsa to get to the inner lane and then cross the road again to drop off and pick up passengers at the second set of three bus stops from Ayala Avenue to MOA.
The first bus loop will be from Monumento to Quezon Avenue where buses will make a U-turn back to Monumento. The second would be from Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITx) to Buendia Avenue then back to PITx.
The current format of the “Edsa carousel” route is drastically different from the earlier “Edsa transformation” design, which would have 26 bus stops exclusively on the inner lane.
150 buses only
Using footbridges, passengers will have to cross Edsa from the curb to the inner lane to get on a bus and from the inner lane to the curb after they get off, according to the design.
Assistant Transportation Secretary Goddes Libiran said the rollout of the new design would be part of their long-term plan for the “new normal.”
For now, commuters will have to make do with the “interim” scheme, which will be served by 150 buses.
The modified busway — a streamlined version of the old 66 routes that had used Edsa before the pandemic — will have 550 buses traveling from Monumento to PITx, with 16 bus stops in between.
There currently are fewer bus stops than planned because these still need fixing and several are still to be constructed, according to Pialago.
Some of the bus stops have inadequate lightning, while more concrete barriers, fences and canopies (for the waiting sheds) need to be set up to separate the inner lane and the bus stops from the other lanes.
Almost all 16 bus stops still need more concrete barriers, said Pialago. The stops at Santolan, Ortigas and Guadalupe need waiting sheds, while those at Ayala, Q-Mart, Taft and MOA are still to be constructed.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the 36,000 concrete barriers meant as separators for the busway might take until September to finish.
Once completed, the busway is expected to cut short travel time from Monumento to PITx to 45 minutes to one hour from up to three hours before the lockdown in March.
‘Dispatching is key’
For now, around 30 buses each will run the mini loops from Monumento to Quezon Avenue, and from Buendia to PITx.
The Monumento-Quezon Avenue Bus stops will be at Bagong Barrio, Light Rail Transit (LRT) Balintawak, Kaingin, LRT Muñoz, Metro Rail Transit (MRT) North Avenue Station; and MRT Quezon Avenue.
The second loop, from PITx to Buendia, will have stops at the following: Buendia, Ayala (southbound—only to unload, northbound—to load and unload), Magallanes, Evangelista/Malibay, Taft Avenue (southbound—only to unload, northbound—only to load), Roxas Boulevard, Macapagal Avenue, MOA and PITx.
“It’s hard to make an assessment of the carousel route now,” said MMDA traffic chief Bong Nebrija. “But I can imagine that like many other new schemes, it would have birth pains. But give it time, especially once we finish the scheme.”
Asked whether the buses crossing Edsa from the outer lane to the inner lane and back could cause traffic, Nebrija said: “Dispatching is key. This is why it would be important for operators to deploy buses within a fixed headway, and for the carousel it’s around five minutes.”
No fare increase shall be implemented for the route, according to the DOTr.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board on Wednesday said it would be doing a shuttle-service mini loop from Timog Avenue to Santolan to complement the busway.
IN PHOTO: The fenced-in inner lane of Edsa is supposed to be for the exclusive use of passenger buses that will start carrying passengers from Monumento in Caloocan City to Mall of Asia in Pasay City. About 150 buses will be deployed on the route. —LYN RILLON