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[EXPLAINER Transportation] Privatization of the EDSA Carousel

Privatizing the EDSA Carousel busway will help address the sorry state of public transportation as well as overcome the fiscal and procurement constraints faced by the government in building the required infrastructure, according to the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP).

“Commuters are suffering,” said MAP Infrastructure Committee Chair Eduardo H. Yap in this Explainer. “We believe that a privatized busway system can give the Filipino riding public a system that is up to global standard.” 

TAKEAWAYS 

Restricting buses to the inner lane is just one part of the rapid bus system. 

Mr. Yap conceptualized the busway project in 2015, when the socioeconomic cost of traffic and dysfunctional transportation was found to be over P3 billion every day. 

He then presented a position paper with a menu of solutions that included the busway. 

“It was quite apparent that the yellow bus lanes were not functioning properly,” said Mr. Yap, who pointed out that while there were 3,000 buses running, they were not effective because they were just stuck in traffic. 

It was only in 2020 when one part of his plan was executed — restricting buses to the inner lane of EDSA. To this day, the entire solution has yet to be executed, which includes strict bus waiting times, smooth in and out of passengers, and proper bus stations accessible to pedestrians. 

“That is not just a simple shift in the location,” he shared. “Along with that comes a complete system for a rapid bus service. It includes so many other components.” 

The EDSA Carousel, it its current state, is not up to par with global standards.

The BRT (bus rapid transit) Standard, a global evaluation tool for bus corridors based on international best practices, can ensure efficiency. 

Based on these, the EDSA Carousel is not up to par. 

“The busway is functioning but the problem is the infrastructure is delayed and the problem is the stations — because the stations have not been built. Up to now, the MRT stations are being used,” Mr. Yap said. 

Today, MRT stations that double as passage for those who want to get to the bus are prone to crowding. Commuters have taken to social media to share that they have waited thirty minutes up to an hour to get a ride, he added. 

Privatization overrides government’s tedious fiscal and procurement constraints. 

Mr. Yap maintained that privatization is the best way to make sure the EDSA Busway is developed based on global standards. 

“Knowing the situation of government, the fiscal constraint, and other constraints as well — you know, the procurement procedure in government is so tedious — we felt that the best solution, time being of the essence, is to privatize the busway,” he said. 

The EDSA Carousel’s bus stations should include convenient pedestrian access (no mountain-like footbridges) and waiting platforms that allow commuters to literally hop on and off the bus without stepping onto the road itself. 

MAP proposed privatizing the busway to Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista to implement these changes, Mr. Yap said. 

Interview and text: Brontë H. LacsamanaVideography: Earl R. Lagundino and Joseph Emmanuel L. GarciaVideo editing: Earl R. Lagundino

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