Starting August 1, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will begin barring provincial buses from plying Edsa.
Initially, the agency was looking at July 15 as the target date of implementation. However, confusion among the public prompted the MMDA to move it to a later date.
According to the guidelines, a portion of Edsa from Cubao, Quezon City to Pasay City will be a no-go zone for provincial buses from Monday to Friday, between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. in the morning and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at night. Originally, the partial ban during nighttime would run from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
In a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia said that this traffic band-aid solution aims to decongest Edsa due to the numerous roadworks happening on the northern portion of Metro Manila.
Garcia said that before they start the implementation on August 1, the agency will conduct a trial run of the partial ban on either July 23 or 24. Affected bus liners can use the Southwest Interim Provincial Terminal at the HK Sun Plaza in Pasay City. They will also be spared from the number coding scheme to compensate for the potential losses.
The partial ban is expected to run until September.
For the greater good
The ultimate goal of the entire exercise, according to Garcia, is to reduce the volume of buses on Edsa.
According to the MMDA’s projections, around 2,000 buses will be removed from the already congested thoroughfare during the entire duration of the partial provincial bus ban.
While EDSA is already a mess as it is, the infrastructure projects spurred by the Duterte administration are further making driving in Metro Manila more nightmarish. Specifically, the projects that threaten to make Edsa traffic more congested are the NLEX drainage enhancement in Caloocan City and construction of elevated guideway for the MRT-7 project on North Avenue, Quezon City.
While the drive to declog Edsa during the mad rush hours is understandable, one question begs to be answered: Will it really work?
Let’s crunch the numbers to find out.
The numbers game
In 2010, an average of 322,936 vehicles used Edsa daily. Four years later, that number ballooned to 360,417.
The daily vehicle capacity of Edsa is at 144,000, which means that the highway has been operating way beyond its threshold. Unfortunately, these numbers aren’t a clear projection of the current state of the country’s busiest main road.
The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc (CAMPI) reported that its member dealerships sold 288,609 units in 2015 and 359,572 units in 2016. Without exaggerating, it’s safe to assume that a lot of these vehicles, whether they’re private or public cars, will definitely become a part of the worsening Edsa traffic.
Using additional numbers, Inquirer reported the following data on the state of Edsa. Keep in mind that these are numbers from 2014 since latest information about the metro’s busiest road is hard to come by:
- 264,000 private vehicles pass through Edsa every day
- 15,200 buses use Edsa every day
- 8 million people are being serviced by the main highway
If we look at the statistics above, more than 80 percent of cars that use Edsa are private vehicles. The 2,000 units promised by the MMDA to be taken out of portions of Edsa are peanuts compared to the number of private vehicles that pass through daily.
While 2,000 buses taken out of Edsa during rush hours won’t substantially matter, there’s also the issue on the terrible driving etiquette of bus drivers.
You can think of a number of offenses bus drivers commit on a daily basis—loading and unloading at improper places, jamming the bus stops, and driving recklessly.
There’s also the concentration of terminals along the Cubao portion of Edsa. Starting the corner of Edsa and Timog Avenue, provincial bus liners litter the stretch of Edsa up to Aurora Boulevard.
Since most terminals don’t have back access through secondary streets, they use the highway to maneuver their way inside their respective terminals.
The government has experimented with a number of methods on how to ease the traffic on the country’s busiest thoroughfare.
Regardless of whether the agencies will focus on either public or private vehicles, one thing’s for sure: Until we get a reliable and efficient mass transit system, more people will patronize buses and cars—and we’ll all be stuck in the forever we fondly call Edsa.