For the past two weeks, we've been seeing videos of buses having a bit of a scuffle with EDSA's concrete barriers. At the time of writing, there have been three incidents involving buses and barriers. This has sparked quite a fair bit of debate online and it mainly revolves around two topics. Is the concrete barrier solution too extreme or are the bus drivers are the only ones to blame?
The Department of Transport (DOTr) stands by the concrete barriers. After all, they just ordered 36,000 of these recently. DOTr secretary Arthur Tugade even ordered the speedier installation and implementation of these barriers. The agency says the purpose of these barriers is for the safety and security of the commuters.
There is a valid argument for the concrete barriers. For one, it keeps all those buses in just one area and it prevents the drivers from darting out of that lane to pick up or drop off passengers outside of the terminals. Besides, it won't be easy pushing those concrete slabs out of the way. This also forces the bus operator not to make unnecessary stops that would impede private vehicle traffic. In theory, having those barriers made out of concrete would keep the speeds down. Besides, who would want to hit one of those at speed?
As a measure to keep all buses in one area, the concrete barriers work. But when it comes to keeping speeds lower, that's a different matter. The first viral video that spread showed a JoannaJesh bus going fast enough to knock down one of the barriers. A second video showed yet another speeding bus knocking down the barrier and, unfortunately, hit a motorist who happened to capture the incident. Thankfully, there were no injuries reported in those two accidents. It could be argued then that the bus drivers are the only ones to blame and the concrete barriers have nothing to do with it. However, the third incident was a little different.
Like the first two incidents, the authorities said that the driver was speeding and reminded bus drivers that the speed limit on the busway is 50 km/h. However, when the video of the third incident went viral, some netizens came to the defense of the driver. There were those saying that the barriers weren't aligned properly while others say that the busway lane is a little too narrow for such wide vehicles, either of which could have been the cause of the crash. The third video also showed the concrete barrier sliding across three lanes of traffic, which raises another concern: A flying concrete barrier isn't something you'd want to jump out in front of you all of a sudden.
If another incident like this happens again, an innocent motorist, be it in a car or motorcycle, could get seriously injured by this heavy projectile. Worse, if a bus hits a barrier at 50 km/h, and private vehicle traffic is at a standstill, it still has more than enough force to collect a few vehicles as collateral damage.
Yes, concrete barriers do their job, but it seems that it's not the safest solution for those who might be in the path of one. That's the bit that worries us. If the barriers were made out of plastic, it could leave a mark on your car or break a window at most. Still, it's better than getting your door torn off, or worse, getting slammed by a concrete barrier without warning.