Transit Authority, P38 billion needed to address EDSA bus woes: transport experts

Bruce Rodriguez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2021 07:52 PM

Commuters take a ride at a rapid bus Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Commuters take a ride at a rapid bus and e-jeepney transport terminal in Pasay City on October 07, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The creation of a transit authority along with P38 billion in investments would help improve the public bus system in Metro Manila, transport experts said on Tuesday as commuters suffer hour-long waiting times just to ride a bus.

In a webinar organized by the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Dr. Robert Siy, Convenor of the Move As One Coalition said, the current busway along EDSA, Metro Manila's main highway can still be improved.

"I believe with the dedicated lane at the median and with the proper design, you can achieve much higher throughput and more buses operating efficiently," Siy explained.

But he said, this would need at least P38 billion in infrastructure investments to resolve many of the technical issues that's facing the busway.

"We now spend about P1 trillion a year on infrastructure and for the longest time, road-based public transport was viewed as something which should pay for itself," Siy noted. 

"We need to think today of a way of funding public transport where we recognize that public transport is an essential service just like health, just like education and is deserving of government support."

Transportation engineer Rene Santiago of Bellwether Advisory Services
said the current EDSA Carousel system can only accommodate 100 buses.

"More than that they will just hit each other from the rear and that is what I've kept on saying, the limitations of the current configuration, you simply cannot go beyond that," he said.
 
That's why he said, aside from "pouring a lot of money," into building good infrastructure for the busway, Metro Manila also has to create a local Transit Authority.

Dr. Vaugh Montes, National Consultant to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Center, meanwhile, said, "the Transit Authority will have a broader mandate for the whole Metro Manila."

"If you're going to have a PPP, you need a counterpart government agency there," Montes explained. "You'll have the Transit Authority authority to negotiate on behalf of the government the concession agreement."

The experts all agreed, while P38 billion is already a big investment, it still does not cover the needed buses that would ply the improved busway, and that the proposed Transit Authority should contract a private sector group to provide modern vehicles.

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