Of BRTs and Double Decker P2Ps

2016 seems to be an interesting year as far as metropolitan public transportation is concerned. Today, we shall be talking about these 2 developments on this edition of the roundup: a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line and an express route served by a double-decker bus.

A BRT for Metro Manila

This news item was originally reported back in December last year but it’s still worth noting. And this is with regards to the approval by President Benigno Aquino III of the installation of a bus rapid transit (BRT) line from Manila City Hall to the Quezon Memorial Circle, possibly using the Padre Burgos-Quezon Boulevard-España-Quezon Avenue alignment.

First things first though, some of you may ask what a BRT is. I’ll just put it this way, BRT is like a mass rail transit on the road itself with interconnected buses instead of railroad cars. As such,  BRTs have a dedicated lane and dedicated stops like the mass transit trains but are more affordable to put in place.

the typical setup of a BRT system (courtesy of jamedeakin.ph)

BRTs are actually becoming popular in recent years partly because of the low cost involved, not to mention the success of the system that has been implemented in various cities around the world, particularly the cities of Bogota and Medellin in Colombia. (okay, cut it out on the Miss Universe/Steve Harvey jokes there)

This 12.3-kilometer BRT line is estimated to cost about P4.78 billion. However, no timeframe has been provided so there is some cloud of doubt as to whether this project would be pursued at all, factoring in there as well the fact that a new administration will be coming in by June this year and may opt to discontinue the project.

And there is also the viability of the BRT in that route considering there are possible plans for a full-fledged mass transit system that would be built along the España-Quezon Avenue alignment, if it would adversely affect the BRT service in the same route. (assuming it gets built in the first place)

Nevertheless, the BRT is a good news for the metropolis’ transportation system. Considering how much traffic this part of the metro is getting thee days, we can hope something is built there to help alleviate the situation, whether it is a BRT or a mass transit line, or perhaps both,

The P2P Bus System

Another positive development in the public transportation system in the city is the unveiling of the point-to-point bus system that plies along EDSA, an effort courtesy of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Department of Transportation and Communication. (DOTC)

the P2P bus in Makati (courtesy of Rappler)

Actually, this serves as the continuation of the holiday express bus system the MMDA has set in place last December, with the same stops and almost the same schedules. The difference this time is that the P2P buses being used are a well-deserved upgrade: double-decker buses.

It’s been a long while since the city has seen double-decker buses as public transport, the last time being in the 1970s-1980s when the Love Bus was lording the major thoroughfares. So it’s nice to see these types of buses in our roads again, and long overdue as they can help accommodate the growing number of commuters that travel along EDSA daily.

These buses are impressive too as they offer wi-fi connectivity, CCTV cameras for security, and even an on-board lavatory, perfect to answer the call of nature during heavy traffic.

But what’s more impressive is the system in place here as far as how they are managed. For one, the buses do not wait for passengers as they follow a strict schedule. Also, every passenger is assured of a seat, which also means it doesn’t allow standing room for passengers. Most importantly, the drivers of these buses are being paid with a fixed salary, unlike other bus franchises where drivers get their pay from their “boundary” or commission based on the number of trips and passengers accommodated. With drivers getting a regular pay, competition is discouraged and they are given better benefits in the process.

Perhaps the only downside here is that these P2P buses have a higher fare compared to the regular buses plying along EDSA and even the Line 3 mass transit system. It’s a matter of preference and strategic choices I suppose, and the P2P buses are a good alternative especially for rush hour traffic and the options available look bad.

The DOTC proclaimed that these P2P buses are a glimpse of the future of what Metro Manila’s transport system would be like. I can only hope that this is a future we get to see because with so much crap and suffering we are bearing for our present transport system, we definitely deserve better.

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