MMDA allows private vehicles to use yellow lanes as buses now designated on left side of EDSA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 2) — Private vehicles may now use the yellow lanes along the entire stretch of EDSA as buses will now take the two leftmost lanes of the highway under the new traffic system of the Metro Manila Development Authority.

MMDA traffic chief Bong Nebrija reiterated this on Tuesday, following reports of motorists still confused with the new scheme, which he said contributed to the heavy buildup of vehicles on the first two days of the general community quarantine in Metro Manila.

"For private vehicles, they can use the old yellow lanes and service roads which are actually now pretty open and free-flowing...they could use that so we can decongest the main artery of EDSA," Nebrija told CNN Philippines' New Day.

"We observed traffic building up early on in the morning. Motorists were sort of confused that the inner lane or the medial lane has been closed for the buses," said Nebrija, describing the situation on EDSA.

Under the new system, the buses, which were previously assigned to the yellow lanes, will now be plying the left lanes to control the number of passengers and travel faster along EDSA. Passengers may get off at the middle island of EDSA and cross from the center to the either sides of the highway.

So far, only four places are designated loading and unloading areas for buses: North Avenue, Quezon Avenue, Ayala Avenue, and Taft Avenue. The drop-off and hop-in stations are located near the respective MRT-3 stations in these places.

From the original 2,500 buses, only 600 will be allowed to ply their routes on EDSA.

Nebrija said they will be putting up barriers to separate buses from private vehicles and minimize congestion.

"We're procuring concrete barriers to separate buses from private vehicles for good," he said.

At least 30 motorists were apprehended on EDSA alone on the first day of the GCQ, Nebrija said. Aside from violations of the new scheme, others were seen to have violated social distancing protocols by either back-riding and not wearing masks.

Meanwhile, the number of vehicles significantly increased by 50 to 60% along Metro Manila's major thoroughfare, he added.

"We significantly felt the volume increase yesterday. When we started with the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), we counted around 15 to 21% of the volume in EDSA," Nebrija said. "When we shifted to the modified ECQ, the number rose to 40%. Yesterday, maybe around 50% to 60%."

Eduardo Yap, chairman of the national affairs committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, previously noted the three factors that are keys to implement the massive shift in the traffic situation in EDSA: engineering, education and enforcement.

Quarantine measures were eased in Metro Manila and several cities and provinces on Monday, with the rest of the country now under a less strict modified general community quarantine.

However, workers struggled to commute to their offices even as public transportation was allowed to partially resume after months of closure. Commuters were seen enduring long lines and extended waiting time just to be able to get a ride in the morning.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said sought for more understanding from the public, saying the national government did not promise it can provide rides for all workers.