Walkable EDSA? Magna Carta for Commuters bill seeks to move people

Vehicles are caught in a standstill on EDSA-Guadalupe northbound on August 9, 2019. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — A Magna Carta for commuters that is pending in both chambers of Congress seeks greater mobility to people by giving them more transportation options and making urban centers more walkable, one of its proponents said Tuesday.

Commuters, not private cars, will be “first in line” and will be given more options through larger sidewalks that can also accommodate bicycles and scooters, said Quezon City 3rd District Rep. Allan Benedict Reyes.

“Imagine a walkable EDSA. Let’s say you want to go from Cubao to Ortigas. That’s just a short walk. But if we provide a nice walkable, tree-lined probably or elevated walkway why won’t you do that just like in Hong Kong,” he said.

“This bill would help make you first in line not private cars but you’d be given more priorities, given more access to your choices of getting from one point to another,” he said.

Reyes authored House Bill 3125 or An Act Creating a Magna Carta of Commuters.” Sen. Francis Pangilinan filed the counterpart measure in the Senate.

“What agencies are doing right now is to decongest our streets, our major thoroughfares. But with this House Bill, we want to bring in mobility to our commuters,” Reyes said.

A more commuter-friendly metropolis will give people easier access to food, water, healthcare, education, and jobs, he said.

The two lawmakers are advocating commuters as authorities moved to address perennial gridlocks on the capital’s main highway, EDSA, by banning provincial buses and limiting city buses to the outermost lanes painted yellow.

An ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, Sen. Francis Tolentino, also filed a bill seeking “emergency powers” for the chief executive to address the traffic problem.

A study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency said the Philippines loses P3.5 billion daily due to traffic jams.

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