Weary commuters do penance at Edsa Busway
MANILA, Philippines — Commuters experienced “hell” during Holy Week and had to endure extraordinarily long queues at Edsa Carousel in Pasig City on Holy Wednesday.
Unlike most commuters, 25-year-old Josh Castro, an FM radio station jockey, already anticipated the long lines at the bus terminal due to the government’s free ride program.
So he left his home in Caloocan City’s Bagbaguin district early and took his usual bus ride to Pasig City at Bagong Barrio to avoid the passenger crush and start his 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift on time.
“Fortunately,” he said, “the lines at Bagong Barrio bus stop and my Libreng Sakay trip to Ortigas were smooth.”
But while en route to Pasig City, Castro observed the pedestrian chaos along Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (Edsa).
“There were a lot of people already since the lines of commuters going north and south were merged and there was a high volume of people already, since the MRT 3 was also closed that time,” Castro recounted the time he arrived at Edsa Carousel in Ortigas at 4 p.m.
The terminal had a motley crowd of workers going home and families off to provinces for the Holy Week.
Even his walk going to Strata 2000 on Emerald Avenue took a minute longer than usual nine to 12 minutes because of the heavy volume of passengers lining up for free rides at Edsa Carousel. The lines reached the back side of the Asian Development Bank, he said.
Even the Ortigas station of MRT 3 was also clogged with lines, with Castro noting that even train station marshals had difficulties in arranging the passengers going out of the station.
“If we’ll just talk about description alone, it was indeed hell!” Castro said. “Imagine, I myself did not have to line up, but I had to endure that heavy line of passengers.”
“For sure, the people along those lines had worse experiences than me,” he also said, adding that commuters were also unable to book rides on Grab or Angkas apps.
Compared to the previous Holy Week, Castro said this year was his worst experience.
When he took off from work at 5:30 a.m. of Maundy Thursday, Castro still saw long lines at Edsa Carousel bus stop.
On that same day, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade apologized due to the huge volume of passengers that lined up at Edsa busway and assured that such an event would not happen again.
“As a commuter, I feel that Tugade’s apology was sincere and I appreciate what he is doing for the transport sector but again, as a commuter, I believe there is a need for them to go down and see the true situation of commuters aside from relying only to reports they were receiving,” Castro said.
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