THE chairman of the House committee on Metro Manila development on Tuesday said he is confident that the proposed single bus lane along EDSA will improve traffic flow as he welcomed Malacañang’s decision allowing roadworthy traditional jeepneys to ply the roads again soon.
Manila’s Tondo district Rep. Manny Lopez, panel chairman, stressed this after his committee conducted an ocular inspection Tuesday on the rationalized bus route system along EDSA.
“As this new bus lane becomes fully operational, we expect to see an improvement om the traffic situation in EDSA, more importantly a reduction in total travel time of our bus riding commuters,” said Lopez who appealed to the public for more understanding and patience.
“In the early phase of this project where the route was incomplete and bus stops and elevated pedestrian walkways were unfinished, we totally understand the frustration of our countrymen,” said Lopez.
“Modern jeepneys, though maybe due, are simply insufficient to service specially our secondary and tertiary feeder roads. Let us get our traditional jeepneys back on the roads with guidelines that make them safe for use adhering to the health guidelines for this pandemic,” he added.
Earlier, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) spokesperson Celine Pialago said the agency received a P33-million budget from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to finance the construction of bus stops and pedestrian overpasses for the implementation of the dedicated single bus lane.
Lopez said the House leadership and his panel is fully committed to help the “DOTr family in finding a solution to the urgent need of making sure that the government has a reliable, safe, and comprehensive public transport system in place as we loosen restrictions to our countrymen and as we get the country back on track and escape from the claws of this coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.”
Once fully operational, Lopez explained that the scheme envisions all buses traversing EDSA to go in a continuous circular route occupying the innermost lane, having stops in the center island with passenger access via existing and to be constructed pedestrian bridges.
Lopez said this theory would allow private vehicles unimpeded movement specially going in and out of all roads connecting to EDSA and decrease delays in this busy thoroughfare.
However, Lopez explained that EDSA is only part of the whole mass public transportation system in Metro Manila.
“It begins from the eskinitas and tertiary roads to the secondary feeder roads, which brings our countrymen to the major thoroughfares like EDSA which again leads to secondary and tertiary roads that bring you to your destination,” Lopez explained.
He added the objective of an effective mass public transport system is to bring “our countrymen to their places of work and safely back home in the shortest possible time.”
“And here is where major work and progress needs to be made. Due to the substantial gaps in our mass public transport system, massive delays are encountered by our returning to work countrymen. It is not unusual to hear of stories of people walking for kilometers and taking 5 or 6 hours getting to work and another 5-6 hours going home,” he lamented.
The Tondo lawmaker said the situation “is unacceptable and we must get our acts together.”
“Metro Manila and the areas covered by Mega Manila account for more than 62% of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) as per 2018 statistics. Hence, if we intend to get the national economy on track, it is first imperative that we get the economy of Metro Manila going and a big part of this is getting our workers to work and safely bringing them home to their families in a reasonable amount of time,” Lopez stressed.
“This is a very complicated issue because faced with this COVID crisis, government’s primary responsibility is the health and safety of our countrymen. However I believe that we can have an effective public transport system that is also safe and conforms to health standards. We may also have to be flexible in our plans,” Lopez pointed out.