To address the surge in passenger volume during peak hours at the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), the Lina Group of Companies plans to invest P200 million to deploy articulated buses with initial routes traversing the MRT stations.
“It is a big investment, ranging from P100 million to P200 million. We will be deploying five to 10 buses in six to nine months,” said Alberto Lina, founder and chairman of Lina Group of Companies.
“We feel that this is what we need to consolidate and to make efficient the transportation system and at the same to bring down the cost of transport,” he added.
He said they will formally apply next week with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. “It’s the LTFRB that will give the authority to make this happen. Hopefully we can deploy the buses on stretches where a lot of passengers are concentrated.”
An articulated bus, a vehicle used in public transportation, usually has a single-deck design, and comprises two rigid sections linked by a pivoting joint. It has a longer length than a single-decker rigid-bodied bus, and has a higher capacity.
On Wednesday, the MRT, in cooperation with the LTFRB and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), conducted a dry-run of one MAN articulated bus from MRT North EDSA station in Quezon City to MRT Taft station in Pasay City.
The initiative was coordinated with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). The dry-run aims to determine if the articulated bus can be a safe and efficient alternative mode of transportation along EDSA.
The articulated buses are initially planned to have stops in three MRT stations namely Buendia, Ayala and Taft, and exclusively for MRT southbound passengers.
The Lina Group of Companies said that, “This is the start. We’re waiting for another four articulated buses, with a price of almost P9 million each unit. It has a mileage of630 kilometers, so it’s practically brand-new. It’s from Germany, but it was used in Poland.”
Lina also said that the government will still have to regulate the fare.”It’s not our caprice, even taxi operations have fare approval.”
When asked if he thought the plan is viable, he answered, “Well, we’ll see. I hope it will be viable . . . you have to take the risk. It cannot be temporary, because when you invest in something it has to be semi-permanent.”
Lina said that the investment will be financed through a loan, but did not divulge details.
If viable as an alternative public transportation in the country, the company said that they are looking at other routes, but the initial routes will traverse the MRT stations to augment the capacity of the MRT.
“We have to admit that there is really a surge in passenger volume in MRT, so we need to address that need. Hopefully this articulated bus, together with the express train service, can fulfill the need,” Lina said.
The estimated fare for the articulated bus would be around P20 to P25, but the LTFRB is asking the company if it is possible to match MRT’s average fare of P15.
Bus special features
The articulated bus has a special features such as a CCTV camera. It has also a pre-programmed speed.
It has a maximum capacity of 150 passengers, unlike the ordinary bus that has only 60 seating capacity.
The dry-run started at the MRT North EDSA station. It passed through the EDSA underpass and overpass, made stops at Buendia, Ayala and Taft stations; andtook a turn at SM Mall of Asia rotunda before finally ending near NAIA Terminal 2.
Buendia Avenue in Makati is the first stop, because according to an MRT study about 80 to 90 percent of MRT commuters disembark at this station.
MRT has a rated capacity of 350,000 passengers per day. However, an estimated 560,000 passengers ride the train each day.
The articulated bus will provide an alternative to the MRT in the meantime that the new coaches have not yet arrived.