EDSA today, yesterday – and the promise of better traffic tomorrow

Published October 21, 2020, 10:29 AM

by Jel Santos

  • The EDSA Bus Carousel occupies the innermost lane and will eventually cause the closure of 13 U-turns along the thoroughfare.
  • The 24-kilometer highway runs through six cities — from Caloocan in the north to Pasay in the south.
  • Before the pandemic, 405,000 vehicles a day drove through EDSA; it was 170,000 vehicles during the enhanced community quarantine; and 205,000 vehicles under the general community quarantine.
  • A 10-km temporary bike lane has been created by the MMDA, from Cubao, Quezon City to Magallanes, Makati.

Who needs to spell out the meaning of EDSA?

The acronym, which stands for a person’s initials, has become a word that means the busiest thoroughfare in Metro Manila.

The 24-kilometer highway runs through six cities — from Caloocan, Quezon City, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Makati and Pasay.

(JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

And as the busiest road in the metro, EDSA has been transformed many times to accommodate the traffic requirements of the time — adding overpasses, underpasses, bus lanes, motorcycle lanes, MRT above-ground tracks and stations— and more recently a Bus Carousel service in the innermost lane and a bike lane in the outermost lane.

Meanwhile, a variety of traffic regulations have been implemented along EDSA – all to speed up the flow of vehicles as it had become a barometer on the traffic situation in the Metro.

U-turns will be gradually closed

If you’ve stayed home since the first quarantine period was imposed in mid-March, you will likely be surprised at the changes in EDSA, especially on the gradual closure of two of the 13 U-turn slots. As of October 19, MMDA has closed two of the 13 U-turns –the North Avenue U-turn and the one in front of Quezon City Academy. That is being done to clear the way for the EDSA Bus Carousel.

EDSA Carousel

The EDSA Carousel is a project of the Department of Transportation (DoTr), which moved the bus lanes to the innermost lanes. It is protected by concrete barriers and metal bollards, making it exclusive for the use of city buses.

Bus stop of new bus carousel
(MMDA / MANILA BULLETIN)

It aims to give city bus commuters faster travel time, or at least a reduction of 20 minutes in travel time from the two points of EDSA.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), which is mandated to manage EDSA, said there are now 14 operational bus stops along EDSA for the Bus Carousel — seven northbound and seven southbound –as of October this year.

When the 13 U-turn slots along EDSA will be closed, the other bus stops will be built. All in all, MMDA said, there would be 32 bus stops located at the inner lane.

Less 20 minutes travel time

According to MMDA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago, the travel time of both commuters and private vehicle motorists will be cut by 20 minutes once all the U-turn slots on EDSA are closed.

“Private vehicle drivers and commuters riding city buses will benefit from the closure of the U-turn slots. About 20 minutes will be reduced from their travel time,” she said, noting MMDA has prepared alternate routes for motorists affected by the closure.

(JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Pialago pointed out U-turn slots along EDSA usually caused gridlocks, slowing down other motorists.

EDSA Bike Lane

Meanwhile, at the outermost lane of EDSA is now a bike lane created by MMDA to accommodate the surge in the number of bikers when the public transportation system was not in full operation due to the quarantine restrictions.

The bike lane is a project of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and MMDA. It is located at the rightmost lane where the MMDA has painted a line to separate the bike lane.

The MMDA said that when the funding for the bike lane is transferred to the agency, they will install metal bollards with connectors for the EDSA bike lanes.

The bike lanes will be supported by a bike sharing program which is now being studied by the DOTr. Bike sharing will make available bikes that people can use for short distances for a fee.

Who is taking care of EDSA?

Traffic management of vehicles along EDSA is mainly managed by MMDA enforcers, headed by MMDA EDSA Traffic chief Bong Nebrija. The agency is assisted by the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group or PNP-HPG.

The MMDA was created in 1995 with the enactment of Republic Act No. 7924. One of its mandates is transport and traffic management.

How many vehicles travel through EDSA?

Before the pandemic, MMDA recorded some 405,000 vehicles passing along EDSA every day.

(JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

During the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), there were only 170,000 vehicles a day; and currently, under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ), there are about 205,000 vehicles a day that drive through EDSA.

What does EDSA mean?

EDSA is the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, named after an associate editor of La Independencia, the newspaper of the Philippine Revolution against Spain.

24-KM THOROUGHFARE— Photo shows the new bus lane or the EDSA Carousel situated at the innermost lane of the busy 24-KM thoroughfare. The concrete barriers and metal bollards separate buses from private vehicles. (Photo courtesy of MMDA) 

Historian Eufemio Agbayani III told us who the man is: “During the Revolution, he was an associate editor for La Independencia. He later became active in law, becoming a district attorney and fiscal. He was also elected as the first Filipino governor of Nueva Ecija (1902-1906) and appointed director of the National Library and Museum (1925-1928).”

On April 7, 1959, it became Epifanio de los Santos Avenue through Republic Act 2140,” Agbayani said.

People Power Monument

To commemorate the events that took place during the 1986 People Power Revolution on EDSA, the People Power Monument was constructed in 1993 at the corner of EDSA and White Plains Avenue in Barangay Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

EDSA Shrine

Less than a kilometer away, the EDSA Shrine or the Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace, Our Lady of EDSA, located at the intersection of Ortigas Avenue and EDSA was built in 1989 on donated land to commemorate the People Power Revolution.

Each year, on February 25, Filipinos celebrate EDSA I or People Power I, the people’s triumph of dethroning a dictator through peaceful means, marking the restoration of democracy in the country. It is a special public holiday. Programs are held at EDSA People Power monument.

EDSA’s other names

EDSA was completed in 1940, and was first named Circumferential Road as it had essentially encircled Manila and its major districts. EDSA was later renamed Highway 54 in the 1950s, the historian said.

 
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