Privatize Edsa busway, managers’ group urges
The government should complete the privatization of the Edsa busway system and resist calls to return to the old setup that only worsened traffic conditions on the thoroughfare, an influential business group said on Thursday.
The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said the Edsa Busway and Bus Carousel Line had proven itself over the past three years to be vastly superior to the old system that allowed buses to compete for passengers on public roads.
The MAP said the busway scheme was able to carry on Dec. 27, 2022, a one-day peak load of 454,649 passengers, using no more than 550 buses on just one lane, with more system capacity to spare.
“Capital expenditures, excluding cost of rolling stock, by the national government totaled only about P500 million, which translates to the lowest capital cost-to-passenger ratio among transit systems,” the group said.
In sharp contrast, the MAP said, the old “yellow lane” system allowed over 3,000 buses to compete for passengers on two lanes, causing inconvenience to commuters and motorists alike.
“The drivers were impervious to discipline. Buses loaded and unloaded anywhere with impunity, weaving in and out of lanes in chaotic fashion. Reverting to the failed yellow bus lane system will be grossly detrimental to commuters, to bus operators themselves and to the economy,” the MAP said.
It also warned that opportunity losses from traffic congestion may likely go higher than the previously estimated P3.5 billion daily if there is a return to the previous system.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) also objected to the removal of the busway system and reversion to the old system.
“The traffic will be back the whole day and commuter travel time will double,” MMDA chief Romando Artes warned in a television interview.
“Unless [bus companies] have a definite proposal that it will not affect traffic, we will definitely oppose any move to remove the bus carousel and go back to the previous system.”
Artes agreed that the busway has been efficient in moving commuters and has eased traffic along Metro Manila’s major thoroughfare.
Instead of returning to the previous system, the MAP said that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) should stay the course and hasten the development and privatization of the Edsa Busway.
“Moving forward, full completion and upgrade of the busway up to global standards with a bus exchange system for convenient transfer of commuters to feeder lines will attract motorists to take public transit and leave their cars at home,” the MAP said.
Through the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) Center, the DOTr started in November last year to solicit private-sector proposals to privatize the Edsa Busway and the PPP commissioned a feasibility study on the process.
The ongoing feasibility study is expected to present various packages that could then be auctioned to private companies under pre-agreed conditionalities, much like the franchises granted to bus companies.