The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have taken steps to address concerns regarding long lines of commuters at the MRT-3 Ortigas and Ayala Stations on Friday evening, which were brought about by various unusual circumstances.
Allow us to cite the following contributing factors:
1. There was heavy rain on Friday, and, according to MMDA, seven (7) vehicular accidents and two (2) stalled vehicular incidents happened along EDSA on Friday, between 2:00PM to 9:00PM, which contributed to the unusual traffic build up, and affected the turnaround of EDSA busway units.
Allow us to note that queueing and waiting time are inevitable, especially during rush hour, weekend, or when there are vehicular accidents and weather disturbances. However, it is important to point out that unlike before when there were no designated loading and unloading stations, and when commuters were scattered along the whole stretch of EDSA to fight for their way to board the bus, there is order now. Commuters line up in an organized manner at stations, with the assurance that they can board the bus.
2. We are still in a pandemic and physical distancing is being enforced in buses along the EDSA Busway, and in the MRT-3. Currently, we are still enforcing the 50% seating capacity in PUVs to adhere to strict physical distancing requirements to curb the spread of COVID-19.
3. We are implementing FREE RIDE for all health workers, medical frontliners, essential workers and APORs at the EDSA Busway, under the Service Contracting Program of the DOTr and LTFRB.
Lines of commuters at the MRT-3 Ortigas and Ayala stations that Friday night were in normal condition. The commuters in the photos lined-up to board buses at the EDSA Carousel stations, which are also located at the said MRT-3 stations.
There are now a number of commuters who prefer to take the EDSA Busway rather than the MRT-3 since the ride is free. During this time of the pandemic, any cash saved, especially for fares, is welcome for this can be used to buy other essential items.
WHAT ARE BEING DONE TO HELP ADDRESS THE LONG LINES
Thus, to help address the long queues, and prevent it from happening again, DOTr Secretary Art Tugade has ordered the DOTr Road Sector and the LTFRB to implement the following:
1. Revisit the present free ride system, and to study if it may be expanded to other platforms, and not just limit it to the road transport sector
2. Push the EDSA Busway Consortium to deploy the maximum number of authorized bus units under their contract to serve more commuters availing of the free bus ride, especially during rush hours, and to add more units as necessary
To date, the Consortium pledged to add 15 more modern bus units with left side doors that will be deployed in the EDSA Busway Route.
3. Add more transport marshals to properly manage passenger traffic at the various EDSA Carousel stations, and to guarantee fast and orderly passenger bus boarding
4. Deploy more "rescue skip buses" to congested EDSA Bus Stops to pick up passengers especially during rush hours
5. Open more mini bus loops, so that EDSA busway units can maneuver immediately and fetch passengers
These mini loops shall be monitored and managed by I-ACT, in coordination with MMDA, for smooth flow of traffic.
The DOTr Road Sector, MMDA, and LGUs concerned shall likewise meet and further discuss various measures to prevent traffic congestion that affect the operation of the EDSA Busway.
Meanwhile, amid the pandemic, the DOTr, in cooperation with other national government agencies, will continue to develop and/or sustain the following infrastructure projects and transport initiatives:
-The EDSA Busway System;
-The massive rehabilitation of MRT-3;
-The promotion of Active Transport;
-The long-term and big-ticket projects in the DOTr Railways Sector (LRT-1 Cavite Extension, LRT-2 East Extension, MRT-7, PNR Clark, Common Station); and
-More efficient traffic enforcement and management being undertaken by the MMDA, with the help of the I-ACT and PNP-HPG.
-EDSA Greenways (elevated walkways)
These initiatives and programs have all had a positive impact in our effort to address the debilitating and long-neglected issues of EDSA.
We will remain relentless in our pursuit of implementing measures to address transport concerns in EDSA, and to provide more transport options such as the EDSA Carousel and an improved MRT-3 system. These will be game changers in the continuing struggle to give every Filipino commuter a safe and convenient ride home, Friday rush hour or not.