Hopes up for new MMDA plan for EDSA

E CARTOON JUNE 2, 2020Epifanio de los Santos Ave. (EDSA) has long been a major traffic problem. Until the COVID-19 restrictions went into effect last March, slow-moving traffic was the norm along EDSA. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) drew up special traffic plans and programs for it, with President Duterte himself setting a goal of a five-minute drive from Ayala Ave. in Makati to Cubao in Quezon City.

A big part of the EDSA traffic problem was attributed to the hundreds of thousands of private cars using EDSA. Then there were also hundreds of buses, many of them empty, lined up along the sidewalks of EDSA, seemingly waiting for passengers. The MMDA at one time sought to remedy this by banning provincial buses from entering Metro Manila and closing down their many bus stations near Cubao.

Now that the two-month ECQ lockdown (March 16-May 15) and two-week Modified ECQ (May 16-May 31) in Metro Manila have finally ended and it is now under a less restricted General Community Quarantine (GCQ), MMDA announced it will now try a new system for buses using EDSA.

Buses used to be confined to the rightmost lane of EDSA, allowing passengers to board and leave at any time. Buses will now use the innermost lane, the one nearest the center islands. Bus loading and unloading zones will be limited to a few stops, including North Ave. and Quezon Ave. in Quezon City, Ayala Ave. in Makati, and Taft Ave. in Pasay City. This will effectively stop the practice of some buses loading and unloading passengers anywhere along EDSA.

There are other parts of the plan for EDSA, according to MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia, but this one provision alone — assigning buses to the innermost lane — should go a long way in minimizing the contribution of buses to the EDSA traffic problem.

Bus stops will be constructed in selected EDSA center islands. Footbridges will be built from these bus stops to the EDSA sidewalks. The MMDA has received a budget of P33 million for this EDSA project from the Department of Transportation.

There may be other steps that can be taken to ease EDSA traffic. Now nearing completion are an elevated highway connecting the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and South Luzon Express (SLEX) and another elevated highway connecting NLEX to C-3 and Manila’s Pier Area. These are expected to be completed by December They will absorb a great deal of the traffic from EDSA.

The two and half months of lockdown in Metro Manila have shown how fast traffic can move along EDSA. We hope the new bus routing system drawn up by MMDA will help when the old traffic returns to EDSA.