Philippines eyes more bus routes to fix lockdown transportation woes


Posted at Jun 02 2020 09:07 AM

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MANILA - The transportation department will add more bus routes in the days to come, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said Tuesday as the region shifted to a looser lockdown.

Some 50 to 60 percent volume of vehicles occupied the metro's main thoroughway on Monday, the first day of the general community quarantine, according to Bong Nebrija, EDSA traffic chief of the Metro Manila Development Authority.

Some 90 buses plied EDSA Monday to augment the metro's railway systems along with permitted taxis, ride-hailing cars, point-to-point buses, and shuttle services as part of the first of 2 phases of public transportation.

"I hope the public will understand this is not final yet. This is just the beginning. In the days to come, the DOTr has a plan to phase in more routes," he told ANC.

"We do not want to overwhelm the system in a way there will be more commuters and less buses and there will be chaos in the road because everybody is confused. We’re trying to phase in one by one so that commuters will get used to it slowly but surely."

Commuters can no longer flag down buses at any point in EDSA and are now required to wait at bus stops, Nebrija said.

"No vehicles will be able to get through bus lanes anymore. Now, this is barricaded and buses will just go around and round," he added.

"We need to do this to protect the commuters as well because we don’t want them to cram in one station of MRT and other bus stops and then everybody will just get the virus and transmit it back home," he said.

The second phase of the resumption of public transport from June 22 to 30 will allow public utility buses, modern jeepneys and UV express vans, authorities earlier said.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board will have the discretion to select which bus companies will be allowed to ply EDSA under phase 2, Nebrija said.

The agency is eyeing vehicles that could operate with cashless payments, Transport Undersecretary Giovanni Lopez earlier said.