When the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) was implemented over the National Capital Region (NCR), one of the stipulations was that the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) was to make a major alteration to our major thoroughfare: EDSA.
Instead of having city buses ply Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue on the two outer yellow lanes, buses are now being relocated to the leftmost lanes. This looks to be the new normal for EDSA traffic moving forward as public transport is rolled back into service as quarantine restrictions begin to get relaxed.
But that leaves a major question unanswered: can private vehicles now occupy the two yellow lanes vacated by the buses?
Well, the short answer from the MMDA is yes.
“Yes. Open na po sa private 'yon,” said MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia over an SMS. “We will put new lines and bike lanes.”
If you frequent EDSA, you'll know that the road is easily the most monitored in Metro Manila, given the presence of MMDA traffic enforcers to ensure that private vehicles do not use the yellow lanes that were designated for the exclusive use of buses. There are also a lot of MMDA-operated CCTV cameras that monitor yellow lane violations for no-contact apprehensions. Private vehicles can only momentarily use the yellow lane when making a right turn to another road or establishment.
With the bus lane relocated, private vehicles can now use those two outermost yellow lanes without fear of being apprehended or receiving a violation notice.
The shift towards the new bus lane mimics the transport infrastructure decisions in a few other countries, especially ones with highly congested capital regions. Most notably, Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta uses such a system wherein buses are located on the rightmost/innermost lane (since they have left-hand traffic with the steering wheel on the right side) as opposed to having buses ply the outermost lanes as they used to on EDSA.