By Alexandria San Juan
The bus augmentation program for commuters of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) will follow a fixed five-minute interval for deploying units to allow faster travel time for commuters, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said.
“Full or not full, with or without passengers, passengers availing of MRT-3’s Bus Augmentation Program can expect buses to be deployed on a fixed interval of every five minutes to ferry them from designated loading and unloading stations along the MRT-3 line,” the DOTr announced.
Apart from the fixed and scheduled dispatches, passengers availing of the program can also expect swift travel as buses under the program will be using dedicated median lanes along EDSA.
Launched on Monday, the metro rail’s bus program aims to offset the reduced capacity of the MRT-3 from 1,182 persons per train set to only 394 due to the implementation of a one-meter physical distancing inside trains.
Based on the data from the MRT-3, four days after its implementation, the program has so far ferried a total of 4,383 passengers who are in need of transportation service going to their workplaces under the less stringent general community quarantine.
At least 90 buses were deployed from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. to ferry commuters along the MRT Line 3. Currently, pick-up and drop-off points are located in North Avenue and Quezon Avenue in Quezon City, Taft Avenue in Manila, and Ayala in Makati.
Loading and unloading stations will be gradually expanded, according to the DOTr pursuant to its “phased and calibrated approach” in restarting Metro Manila’s public transport system.
In line with the guidelines of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the operates contracted by the MRT-3 management for the program are grantees of special permits from the LTFRB for the eventual EDSA Carousel route.
The DOTr has been criticized for its “lack of plans” for the resumption of the public transportation during GCQ after many commuters in parts of Metro Manila were stranded, while some were forced to walk to their workplaces as mass transportation remains crippled.
Following this, five city bus routes have been opened by the LTFRB over the week to service more essential commuters. Another three routes will be launched beginning Monday, June 8 — Route 3 from Monumento to the Valenzuela Gateway Complex; Route 11 from Gilmore to Taytay, Rizal; and Route 21 from Monumento to San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.
The DOTr assured the riding public that it has been conducting daily assessments on the transportation sector since the shift to the GCQ to help them identify vital routes to be opened.