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A major transformational initiative of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), under the leadership of Sec. Art Tugade, is now underway as Metro Manila’s busiest thoroughfare will get a major facelift following the start of construction works of the much-awaited EDSA Busway Concourse today, 18 May 2021.
 
A jubilant Sec. Tugade expressed his gratitude to stakeholders, including other government agencies and private sector partners, particularly the SM Group, who joined forces in making the project to provide safe and hassle-free travel to commuters  a reality 
 
“Taos-puso ang aking pasasalamat dahil sa wakas, makakamit at matitikman na ng publiko ang tunay na pagbabago sa EDSA gamit ang EDSA Busway Concourse. Mas magiging ligtas na ang pag akyat-baba ng mga pasahero sa mga sakayan. Mas kombinyente na rin ang pagsakay dahil magkakaroon pa ng ticket booths, concierge at turnstiles para sa automatic fare collection system. Meron tayong sistema na friendly sa ating mga senior citizens at sa mga persons with challenges and disabilities,” Tugade said in his message during the virtual ceremony of the EDSA Busway Concourse.
 
The world-class and state-of-the-art EDSA Busway Concourse will provide convenient and safe transport access for commuters, especially those in vulnerable sectors, such as senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and pregnant women. 
 
The concourses will have a provision for ticketing booths, Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS) turnstiles, and concierges, which will allow transactions to take place at the concourses before the onboarding of passengers.
                      
To recall, the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the construction of the EDSA Busway concourse was held in November 2020. The SM Group will start the construction of three (3) concourses to be built at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, and SM North EDSA in Quezon City.
 
The concourses will further boost the efficiency of the EDSA Busway, a joint project of the DOTr, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). The EDSA Busway was carried out at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020 to provide seamless movement of high-capacity Public Utility Buses (PUBs).
 
“Today’s groundbreaking ceremony marks another milestone in the EDSA Busway project. And SM Prime is honored to be part of the government’s effort in further improving the commuting experience of every Filipino,” SM Prime Holdings Inc. President Jeffrey Lim said.
 
“SM has invested over P120 million for this project. We really aspire to provide a convenient, fast, and safe commuting experience for all Filipinos. The project is slated to start next month June 2021 and the target completion is within 10 months, so by the first quarter of 2022, we hope that everybody can already enjoy this convenient and pleasurable experience of commuting along EDSA,” SM Supermalls President Steven Tan meanwhile said.
 
For their part, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos heaped praises for Sec. Tugade’s efforts in spearheading the collective effort of bringing faster travel time, comfortable commute, and improved mobility along EDSA amid the pandemic.
 
“I thank and congratulate Sec. Art Tugade for such a monumental accomplishment. He has really changed the landscape of mass transit, especially in EDSA. It makes me very happy to know that together, we succeeded in converting what used to be a symbol of traffic into a symbol now of what the true leadership of President Duterte brings,” Sec. Villar said.
 
“There’s a 47.3% average decrease in travel among public utility buses traveling along EDSA from January 2020 to January of this year while there is 89.81% or 9.61 kilometers per hour average increase in travel speed of our PUBs for the similar period. All these figures are the sweet fruit of labor that we’ve long wanted our commuters and motorists alike to experience,” MMDA Chairman Abalos explained.
 
Moreover, Green EDSA Movement Chairman Eddie Yap said that the EDSA Busway Concourse is targeted to increase the buses plying along the country’s main thoroughfare to more than 500 from the current 200 bus units.
 
“These reforms provide for a framework for sustainable management of urban traffic congestion and people mobility,” Yap said.
 
DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Steven Pastor, meanwhile, said that additional concourses will be constructed in other stations of the EDSA Busway.
 
“Through our private partners, the Double Dragon and Wenceslao Group, ang dalawang susunod na concourses ay located sa Roxas Boulevard at Macapagal Avenue. On top of that, may additional four stations pa sa Buendia, Taft, Roxas Boulevard at sa Tramo,” Pastor said.
 
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