THE World Bank and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Friday signed an agreement to address traffic congestion in Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue (EDSA) by reducing the volume of buses plying the Philippines’ busiest main thoroughfare.
Named “EDSA Bus Reduction Project,” the project aims to optimize bus traffic by enhancing the existing organized bus route system of MMDA using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to manage the dispatch of units at terminals, limit dwell times at stops, enforce franchise and traffic rules, and ban arbitrary trip-cutting and out-of-line operations.
Under the project, each registered bus will be fitted with an electronic tag that will have a unique identifier code that is associated in the computer database with the identification records of the bus unit to which the tag is attached.
When RFID-tagged buses enter terminals, principal stops, and a number of other locations where tag readers are installed, they will be detected.
The technology would also help identify off-route running buses.
The information is sent by the readers to the central server with software applications that interpret the data and support the headway management, dispatching, dwell-time management, violation-detection, and violation-reporting functions—all of which would help eliminate illegal operators and buses.
These measures are expected to reduce the number of buses in transit along EDSA and reduce queues at stops, thereby alleviating congestion and increasing the average speed of travel. The resulting reduction in the number of bus trips and the time each bus spends on the road will reduce fuel consumption per passenger per kilometer traveled, thus cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and local air contaminants.
An estimated 5,000 buses—including up to 1,500 colorums or illegally operating units —contribute to traffic congestion and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution in EDSA.
“Not only will the EDSA Bus Reduction Project improve the traffic situation in the country’s main thoroughfare and contribute to the global fight of reducing GHG emissions, it will also have significant local environmental, health and economic benefits for Metro Manila residents,” Bert Hofman, World Bank country director for the Philippines said.
A majority of Metro Manila residents, Hofman said, take public transport, adding that many use EDSA every day in going to work or school, and doing business.
“Better traffic flow along EDSA therefore would enhance the welfare of millions of Filipinos. The project will also reduce outdoor air pollution, which causes sickness affecting more than one million people and premature death of 15,000 people every year in urban centers, with an economic and health cost estimated at more than $20 million per year,” Hofman said.
Oscar Inocentes, MMDA chairman said there is a need to modernize Metro Manila’s traffic management system through the use of new technology such as RFID and bring order to bus operations.
“The database to be accumulated by the system will also provide a platform for better urban transport planning and for the development of an effective public transport franchise management, which can be replicated in other urban centers in the country,” he said. –DARWIN G. AMOJELAR Senior Reporter, Manila Times