Senator Nancy Binay

MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Monday said they were “disappointed and frustrated” after Senator Nancy Binay called its ongoing Edsa Busway project “totally unrealistic” and “bound to fail” and invited Binay to a dialogue on the project.

In an open letter addressed to Binay, the DOTr said she has derided its initiative which seeks to “serve the riding public with a better mass transport system” without giving the department an opportunity to explain or present its plan.

“The Edsa Busway plan is actually not even a new concept but a takeoff from the Bus Rapid Transit system or BRT, and the Bus Median Lane usage that has been proven to be one of the more effective mass transport systems in the world,” the DOTr said.

It said that in adopting the BRT and the median lane, the DOTr will ensure the safety of commuters through the establishment of designated bus stops in “strategic locations,” with proper entrances, exits, accessible crossings, pathways, “most of which will be complementary to the existing MRT-3 station facilities.”

“Thus, even PWDs (persons with disabilities) and senior citizens will have easier access,” the DOTr said.

Some of the reasons the DOTr believes in the effectivity of the Edsa Busway, it said, include the “seamless” or uninterrupted and faster movement of buses “like a train on a railroad,” faster travel time for commuters, more predictable route schedule, faster turnaround time and more trips which lead to higher passenger capacity, safe and protected bus stops with enforcers/transport marshals, “at-grade” pedestrian crossings and/footbridges, buses to stop only at designated stops, and friendly to PWDs and senior citizens through the provision of special lifters, “as provided by the Department of Public Works and Highways/Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.”

During its planning for the project, it said various transport experts and stakeholders were asked to engage and coordinate with the project, including “commuter groups, economists, and community leaders.”

These groups, it said, shared a belief with the DOTr in coming out with a plan that aims to “eradicate decades of car-centered policies that have clogged roads and oppressed the majority of the public who commute to work.”

Rather than “berate or mock our efforts via media sensationalism just to gain mileage and exposure,” it called on Binay to attend one of its online video conferences to air issues, concerns or to provide inputs and recommendations.

“Our road transport officers are also most willing to come and visit her at her office, at her convenience, if she would like to seek further explanation and enlightenment,” the DOTr said.

On Friday, Binay criticized the Edsa Busway project of the DOTr and called it a “virtual experiment” and a “hilaw at minadaling plano sa Edsa (neglectful and hurried plan in Edsa) which placed public safety as a secondary concern.”

In particular, she said putting bus lanes in the two innermost lanes in Edsa will inconvenience passengers as they will have trouble crossing EDSA, particularly senior citizens and others who might have trouble climbing up elevated walkways. (PNA)