After provincial bus crackdown, MMDA to revive driver-only car ban along EDSA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 12) — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) wants to fully implement its ban on provincial buses on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) and transfer terminals outside the capital next month.

MMDA Traffic Manager Bong Nebrija said they are only waiting for the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to release the new fare matrix for city buses to cover extended routes as they fetch passengers from the new terminals for provincial buses.

To decongest EDSA, buses from northern Luzon should drop off all passengers at a terminal in Valenzuela City, while commuters from the south will have to alight at a terminal in Sta. Rosa, Laguna or in Parañaque City. From there, they will have to board a different bus or car to enter Manila.

"They are doing it right now, we're just waiting for the final guidelines," Nebrija told CNN Philippines' The Source.

For now, the MMDA is appealing to bus operators not to impose excessive fees, saying that they should just cover the difference for the longer route.

READ: DOTr, MMDA working on new city bus routes

Three petitions have been filed asking the Supreme Court to stop the MMDA's proposal, calling the measure anti-poor and inconvenient for passengers. Nebrija said they have not received any order from the court yet, but that oral arguments are scheduled later this month to tackle the complaints.

Nebrija also clarified data which show that provincial buses represent only five percent of all vehicles passing through EDSA.

Based on simulations, travel speed could improve by 14 percent and travel times slashed by 26 percent, the traffic chief said.

"In our defense of this policy, the terminals are the traffic generators... It totally blocks the flow of pedestrian traffic in that area," he added, saying that taxis and private cars also gather in front of these bus bays to pick up commuters.

The next step will involve shutting down all bus terminals along EDSA, which are mostly along Cubao and Buendia. Nebrija said this will have to be carried by the mayors who will assume office beginning July 1. They expect the new scheme for provincial buses to take effect in the same month.

Once that's done, the MMDA said they will revive their proposal to ban driver-only vehicles on EDSA to improve traffic flow. This measure drew flak among motorists when dry runs were staged in August 2018, saying that this will only clog other roads.

The idea is to promote carpooling by offering rush-hour lanes for cars with high occupancy to lessen vehicles on the road. However, the Senate passed a resolution asking the MMDA to stop the scheme pending the submission of a detailed traffic study as well as public consultations on the proposal.

Nebrija said authorities would also have to regulate the darkness of car tints so that they can see if there are multiple passengers or not.

"Hindi pa siya agad, definitely, but we see that the HOV (high occupancy vehicle policy) is one of the best policies that we can implement in a sense na it will reduce the volume on EDSA," Nebrija said.

Initial data showed that as much as 140,000 vehicles could be taken out of EDSA with this ban in place.

The MMDA will have to present the measure again before the Metro Manila Council before implementation.