Business groups urge government to privatize EDSA Busway System

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star
Business groups urge government to privatize EDSA Busway System
In a statement yesterday, the groups said the EDSA Busway System is a low-hanging fruit for public-private partnership (PPP).
Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — Nearly 30 business groups are urging the government to privatize the EDSA Busway System in a bid to ease the daily grind of commuters.

In a statement yesterday, the groups said the EDSA Busway System is a low-hanging fruit for public-private partnership (PPP).

“To expeditiously carry this work-in-progress project forward to its completion in accordance with global standards, as laudably committed by Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, we strongly urge and fully support its privatization, conformably with PPP process and under concession terms beneficial to all concerned,” the groups added.

Among the undersigned groups are Agriwatch Inc., American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Anvil Business Club, Asia Pacific Real Estate Association-Philippines, Cebu Business Club, Cebu Leads Foundation, Chinese Filipino Business Club Inc., Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc., Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Inc., Filipina CEO Circle, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Foundation for Economic Freedom and Guild of Real Estate Entrepreneurs and Practitioners Inc.

The statement was also signed by the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines, Management Association of the Philippines, National Real Estate Association, Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines, Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship Foundation-Go Negosyo, Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, Philippine Franchise Association, Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Philippine Retailers Association, Philippine Women’s Economic Network, Philippines-New Zealand Business Council, Procurement and Supply Institute of Asia, Subdivision and Housing Developers Association, Tax Management Association of the Philippines and the Women’s Business Council Philippines.

They cited data from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) showing that the busway system carried an average of 325,000 passengers daily last August, even with only 550 buses committed to its operations, compared with 3,300 units pre-pandemic.

“It has reduced in half the end-to-end travel time on EDSA – from Monumento in Caloocan City to the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) – from three hours to one-and-a-half hours. These are truly impressive gains that reflect great opportunity for further improvement,” the groups said.

They stressed that the EDSA Busway System provides an opportunity for the government to upgrade the country’s public transportation system, despite the challenges posed by severe fiscal constraints brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is high time that the government and the private sector join hands to provide the critical components that are needed to complete the busway system – and finally put an end to the daily scenario in which thousands of commuters wait in long queues in overcrowded stations while enduring unnecessary pains and hardships,” the groups said.

They explained that a busway with rapid bus service has proven to be the most cost-effective urban mass transit system in the world, adding that it is easy to implement and requires significantly less capital expenditures, while it provides high efficiency and ridership capacity similar to rail trams with the introduction of the latest technology in commuter transport: high capacity, articulated trackless long bus-trains running on rubber wheels.

“Our commuters and our country deserve a busway system that is at par with comparable systems in other countries. We note that the Jakarta Busway has the longest system in the world and the Guangzhou System is recognized as the gold standard,” the groups said.

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