By Emmie V. Abadilla and Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Department of Transportation (DOTr), in partnership with SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPHI), Tuesday, (May 18) virtually broke ground for the over P120 million EDSA Busway Concourse project.
Actual construction starts next month, with target completion date within ten months, or second quarter of 2022.
Today’s event marks the start of civil works for three concourses to be built at SM Mall of Asia (target completion, December 2021), SM Megamall and SM North EDSA (target completion, May 2022 for both), in spaces which the SM Group donated.
SMPHI invested over P120M for the project, “aspiring to provide convenient, fast and safe commuting experience” for thousands of daily commuters, according to company officials.
The concourses have provisions for ticketing booths, Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS) turnstiles, and concierges, allowing all transactions to take place at the concourses, prior to the onboarding of passengers.
This will address the need for safer, more convenient access to the stations of the EDSA Busway, and improve commuters’ experience.
The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA ) for the concourse project was signed in November 2020.
The EDSA Busway system —a joint project of the DOTr, in cooperation with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)—started interim operations in June, last year.
The goal is to allow faster travel time for commuters, provide a comfortable commute for the Filipinos amid the pandemic and improve mobility along EDSA.
For his part, Busway advocate Eduardo Yap said in a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony lauded the project. “This first batch of busway access bridges and concourses is now being constructed. Upon their completion, the daily experience of commuters will again rise to a higher level, while Metro Manila will have iconic public infrastructure that blends functionality with aesthetics and ‘green’ principles,” said Yap.
He said that once completed, the Philippines can be pitted against the busways of Jakarta and Guangdong cities.
Yap, who is chair of the Management Association of the Philippines Transportation Committee and Green EDSA Movement, also corrected the misconception that the improved bus transportation service on EDSA is not solely due to the busway nor was it due to the pandemic.
“This was brought about by a set of unprecedented structural reforms in the bus transportation system instituted together with the busway by the Department of Transportation under Sec. Art Tugade,” he said.
These reforms consisted of bus franchise reorganization, route restructuring with the introduction of the feeder and trunk line system that is prevalent abroad, the innovative “EDSA carousel bus line,” and bus service contracting. “These were the complementary measures that render the new busway efficient and effective,” said the busway advocate.
According to Yap, the new bus system in EDSA and elsewhere in the National Capital Region is “transformational”, as well as “historic”.
“After many decades of chaotic public transportation, order and system have been restored. These reforms provide the framework for sustainable management of urban traffic congestion and people mobility,” he said.
With the busway, public buses will no longer contribute to congestion in the private vehicle lanes.
He cited the transformation of EDSA, Metro Manila’s major highway that has become a symbol of the country’s inefficient traffic system, as a manifestation of effective public-private partnership.