EDSA Carousel Roosevelt Station (PNA photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has negotiated with the transport consortiums operating public utility buses (PUB) along the EDSA Carousel to increase the route’s maximum capacity to 650 to address long queues of passengers during peak hours.

In a Laging Handa briefing on Thursday, DOTr Undersecretary Timothy John Batan said the number of passengers using the EDSA Carousel has been increasing.

“Iyon pong operator ay itataas iyong bilang ng mga bus mula po sa 550 paakyat sa 650. So nagdadagdag na po tayo ng bus units diyan (The operator will increase the number of buses from 550 to 650 buses. So, we have increased the number of bus units there),” Batan said.

To further improve its service and comfort for passengers, he said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is set to open two more EDSA Carousel stations along Tramo and Ayala Avenue.

This comes after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the DOTr unveiled two new median bus stops early in August -- along Roxas Boulevard and Taft Avenue.

Excluding the two stations that are still under construction, there are a total of 15 median bus stops for the EDSA Carousel plus three other bus stops on the outer lanes.

These improvements will help address the expected increase in the number of passengers once classes start on Aug. 22 and the gradual return of face-to-face classes by November, Batan said.

These include road safety initiatives to boost pedestrian and commuter safety and the continuation of the ‘Libreng Sakay (free ride)’ program at the EDSA Bus Carousel and at the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2).

In addition, he said the LTFRB has already begun the reopening of over a hundred pre-pandemic city bus, public utility jeepney, and UV Express routes.

“Para po masigurado natin na kapag nag-balik eskuwela po tayo sa parating na linggo ay magkakaroon po tayo ng sapat na bilang ng mga public transport na masasakyan po ng ating mga estudyante (This is to ensure that once schools reopen next week, we’ll have enough public transport for our students),” he said.

In July, DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista and LTFRB Chair Cheloy Garafil met with representatives from the two EDSA Carousel bus consortia and agreed to accelerate the payout for the ‘Libreng Sakay’ program in return for deploying 440 buses during rush hours, compared to an average of only 200 buses in the past. (PNA)