THE government is targeting improving the traffic condition in Metro Manila—where daily gridlocks are a nightmare—by establishing modern transport hubs outside the metropolis and preventing provincial buses from passing through the nearly 24-kilometer Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, the main thoroughfare in the capital.
Three terminals will be constructed:
• North Transport Terminal for provincial buses from Pangasinan, Tarlac, and other parts of Northern Luzon entering via the North Luzon Expressway, MacArthur Highway, Mindanao Avenue, Quirino Avenue, and Commonwealth Ave;
• South Transport hub for provincial buses from Laguna, Quezon and other parts of Southern Tagalog entering via the South Luzon Expressway, and
• Southwest Integrated Terminal Exchange (Switx) for provincial buses from south of Metro Manila—Batangas and Cavite entering via Coastal Road and the Manila-Cavite Expressway.
With the completion of these terminals, provincial buses will no longer be allowed to enter Edsa.
The construction of Switx in Parañaque City, situated along Coastal Road in Parañaque City, is now more than 50 percent complete and is expected to be inaugurated next April.
Thomas Orbos, Metro Manila Development Authority general manager and concurrent Transportation undersecretary for roads and infrastructure, said traffic flow along Edsa was expected to improve once Switx, the country’s first intermodal transport terminal, was fully operational.
“At least 1,000 buses will be taken out of Edsa daily for the comfort and safety of our Cavite and Batangas brothers going to Metro Manila and greatly help decongest Metro Manila traffic,” he said.
The Department of Transportation is still looking for the right location of a terminal intended for provincial buses from northern Luzon while it is considering the proposal of local government officials in Laguna to build in Sta. Rosa City a terminal for buses coming from Laguna and Quezon.
Aside from decongesting Edsa, Orbos said the terminal was also designed to make commuting more convenient for those living in the southern part of the metropolis.
MMDA chairman Danilo Lim said provincial buses would only be allowed to load and unload in Switx, avoiding Edsa.
“Buses entering the capital will load and unload passengers in this inter-modal facility where commuters can transfer from one transport mode to another with cabs and other public utility vehicles available,” said Lim.
Lim added that commuters would have access to trains when the Light Railway Transit-Line One Extension project was completed.
“A station of the LRT extension project will be constructed near the Switx,” he said.
Switx was designed to resemble an airport terminal with multi-level platforms.
It will have passenger terminal buildings, embarkation and disembarkation bays, staging bays, ticketing and baggage handling facilities, and park-ride facilities.
Catching a bus is also made easier with the On-line Bus Ticketing System, an intuitive online and on-site booking and ticketing system.
Departure schedules will also be displayed on large screens.
Buses will likewise be equipped with Ultra-High Frequency tag for efficient managing, tracking, and monitoring inside the terminal premises.
Vehicles and passengers’ queuing, loading, and unloading will all be systematized.
The terminal will also be equipped with Wi-Fi and charging points.
For added comfort, there will be air-conditioned lounges and waiting areas for passengers, as well as retail stores and food centers.
Drivers will also have their own retiring room.
Closed circuit television cameras and baggage scanners will be installed and security personnel will be stationed 24/7 to ensure safety of passengers.
To make the terminal more vibrant, commercial spaces and offices will be occupying the premises. This will also ensure a steady flow of passengers that will be using the new terminal.
Two years ago, Metro Manila mayors agreed to the plan removing bus terminals along Edsa in line with the government’s solution to the worsening traffic situation in the National Capital Region.
Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and Pasay City Mayor Antonio Calixto, whose jurisdictions
have the most numbers of bus terminals, were the first local executives who signed the resolution titled “Rationalizing the Operations of Provincial Buses and its Terminals Along Edsa.”
Bautista recently called on the MMDA and DoTr to decide on the site of the proposed north bus terminal.
The MMDA has had plans since 2013 to construct an interim northern provincial bus terminal near the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City.
The facility is said to be an end-point for over 370 provincial buses.
Bautista said Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan had identified a site for the proposed terminal, but said the DoTr wanted it located within a railway line.
MMDA records showed there are 85 provincial bus companies in Metro Manila.
Of the 85 provincial bus companies, 46 firms have terminals on Edsa, particularly in Cubao, Balintawak and Taft Avenue.
Around 3,300 provincial buses and 12,000 city buses pass through Edsa daily.
In 2014, the MMDA and the DoTr put up a temporary terminal in Alabang, Muntinlupa for 556 buses from southern Luzon which did not have proper terminals in Metro Manila and in 2013 on Coastal Road near the Coastal Mall in Parañaque City for about 1,000 buses from Cavite and Batangas.
Traffic in the NCR caused an estimated productivity loss of around P2.4 billion a day or more than P800 billion a year.
But authorities said that with the right systems from the government combined with sacrifices and discipline from the people, the worsening traffic problem in the metropolis would be resolved.
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