Biz group, transport experts urge gov’t to reconsider EDSA BRT project

Published by rudy Date posted on October 27, 2021

by, 27 Oct 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Management Association of the Philippines and Move as One transport coalition urged the national government Wednesday to prioritize the EDSA Bus Rapid Transit project, saying the decision to scrap it in 2018 was backed by “obsolete” information.

At an assessment webinar Tuesday, the two groups called on the Department of Transportation and the Metro Manila Development Authority to prioritize the project moving forward in the coronavirus pandemic, pointing to their mandates and the government’s own national transport policy.

MMDA chief Abalos mulls more roads, elevated bus ramps to change Philippines’ traffic reputation
As it currently stands, the Duterte administration’s plan under Build, Build, Build is to spend a total of P2.02 trillion on public transport infrastructure flagship projects from 2017-2025. Broken down, 98% of the infrastructure budget is set to go to rail projects such as the Metro Rail Transit-Line 3 and the Metro Manila Subway.

“The new busway on EDSA is the most cost-effective urban mass transit in lieu of the expensive rail system. Although the busway is still a work-in-progress, it conforms to basic characteristics of globally accepted busway standards,” Eduardo Yap, who chair’s the MAP’s transport committee, said in an email to

“Like any startup, the busway suffers occasional glitches. But the pilot test since its inception on June 1, 2020 has proven its concept and its benefits to countless commuters in terms of faster travel time is already manifest. To attain higher capacity and efficiency, the busway must be upgraded and scaled up.”

‘Obsolete’ advice from state transport experts

Transport economist Robert Siy, convener of Move as One, said that the project’s earlier scrapping was due to experts pointing to the demand amid the ongoing MRT-3 and Metro Manila Subway projects, the technical feasibility of intersections and moving buses in inner lanes, and the willingness of bus operators to consolidate.

On the contrary, Siy said, the current travel demand along the metro’s main thoroughfare “far exceeds [the] current Busway and MRT-3 capacity,” while the technical feasibility of the BRT has already been proven while bus operators have been “receptive to service contracting.”

MMDA chair Benhur Abalos, however, has prioritized new overpasses at U-turn slots at the north sector of EDSA to eliminate traffic conflict between buses and other vehicles.

When he was installed as MMDA chair in January, Abalos said that the solution to the traffic crisis would be more roads, particularly elevated bus ramps and pedestrian walkways.

At the time, the MMDA in February also had strong reservations against calls for EDSA bus lanes, claiming they might “alter” traffic congestion and the safety of motorists.

Data published by online database Numbeo found that the Philippines has among the worst traffic situations in the world with a total score of 198.33, good for the top spot among six of 11 Southeast Asian countries included in the index.

BRT ‘makes sense’ along EDSA

In a research paper published in May of this year, the transport coalition also argued that BRT is “by far the most cost-effective infrastructure flagship pipeline option,” making up just 24% of the subway project’s cost.

“Even if all projects are completed on time, the Greater Capital Region area will still experience a system-wide shortage in public transport supply over the next decade,” the coalition said then in a forum.

Yap pointed out that when the DOTr instituted bus service reforms to complement the MRT rehabilitation in June 2020, the first section of the EDSA busway was “completed in record time” after taking just two weeks to complete the EDSA-North to Guadalupe route.

In his presentation, Siy also argued that travel time inside the bus from Monumento to Mall of Asia is estimated to have been reduced to 40 minutes after normally hitting “close to 3 hours.”

“Without additional investment in stations and vehicles, adding more buses will only result in ‘bunching’ of buses at stations,” Siy said.

“Efficient mass public transportation is essential for people mobility, economic growth and reduction of air pollution and greenhouse gases,” Yap also said.

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