Transport agencies admit to long commuter queues, but 'there is order now'

Transport agencies have acknowledged the problem of long commuter lines at EDSA Bus Carousel stations, but they insist that things are still more organized and orderly than before.

(File photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

The public has been criticizing the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) after photos of commuters queueing up at several stations along the EDSA busway circulated on social media.

While all commuters are required to wear face masks and face shields before boarding buses, some netizens are concerned over the possible risk of transmission due to the lack of social distancing.

The DOTr and the LTFRB have blamed "various unusual circumstances" for the long queues of commuters at the EDSA Bus Carousel stations.

"There was heavy rain on Friday, and, according to MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority), seven vehicular accidents and two stalled vehicular incidents happened along EDSA on Friday, between 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. which contributed to the unusual traffic build up, and affected the turnaround of EDSA busway units," the LTFRB said.

The LTFRB--an attached agency of the DOTr--reckoned that queueing and waiting time were "inevitable" especially with these factors in play, but at the same time emphasized that the Metro's public transport systems was more organized now.

"Unlike before when there were no designated loading and unloading stations, and when commuters were scattered along the whole stretch of EDSA to fight for their way to board the bus, there is order now. Commuters line up in an organized manner at stations, with the assurance that they can board the bus," it added.

Another factor that the LTFRB noted was the enforcement of the 50 percent seating capacity in public utility vehicles (PUV) to adhere to physical distancing guidelines in public transport.

It also added that most of the commuters preferred to take the EDSA busway where free rides are being offered to all health workers, medical frontliners, essential workers, and authorized persons outside residence.

"During this time of the pandemic, any cash saved, especially for fares, is welcome for this can be used to buy other essential items," the LTFRB said.

At any rate, the LTFRB and the DOTr have been looking into the possible expansion of the government's free ride program to other modes of public transport.

They have also ordered the EDSA Busway Consortium to deploy the maximum number of authorized bus units under their contract to serve more commuters especially during rush hours.