A significant, concrete step towards solving traffic congestion in Metro Manila was taken, as the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with North Luzon Express Terminal Inc. to pave the way for the construction of the North Luzon Express Terminal (NLET), an integrated bus terminal facility for Northbound provincial buses located right next to the Philippine Arena inside the Ciudad De Victoria complex in Bocaue, Bulacan.
According to Atty. GP Santos, the NLET is expected to remove close to six thousand provincial buses from Metro Manila’s already congested roads and contribute to government efforts to improve traffic in the nation’s capital.
“Based on a study by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), the worsening traffic in Metro Manila costs around 3.5 billion pesos a day in lost financial opportunities,” explained Santos, the Chief Operating Officer of Maligaya Development Corporation (MDC), the company that oversees the operations of the Philippine Arena and the Ciudad de Victoria complex.
“These losses will climb to 5.4 billion pesos a day by 2035 if nothing is done.”
“To decongest traffic in Mega Manila, it has been recommended that transport intervention should include the improvement of bus services through an intermodal bus terminal and interchange facility, ideally located outside Mega Manila,” said Santos.
“Matagal na itong pinag-uusapan, may mga plano tayong naririnig, pero walang nangyayari. (This has been discussed for a long time and we hear plans about this, but nothing ever happens.) This is why we appreciate the initiative of DOTr Sec. Tugade, who is clearly serious about addressing our traffic crisis.”
Santos said the NLET would ensure “efficient and seamless travel for the 97,000 people who travel to and from the North every day.”
Santos said that provincial bus passengers will benefit from reduced walking, reduced transfer distances, better integration of facilities, and increased safety as they need only to go to one integrated bus terminal that will provide them options from a variety of bus operators found in one location.
“For bus operators, locating the integrated bus terminal north of Mega Manila will reduce provincial bus operating costs due to shortened routes that will end at Philippine Arena, and lower maintenance costs from their individual terminals inside the metropolis,” added Santos.
In the presentation of the JICA study at the 36th Joint Meeting of the Japan-Philippines Economic Cooperation Committees in Makati, JICA Chief Representative Susumu Ito said that growing congestion in Metro Manila and nearby provinces emphasized the need for new, modern infrastructure.
“The conclusion that we have is that ‘Build, Build, Build’ is a move in the right direction. It’s a must do.”