One of the changes that the pandemic brought was the makeover of bus routes in Metro Manila. Many routes were cancelled permanently and new routes were introduced, including the EDSA Carousel. I had the chance to try it recently and here’s my experience.
Terrible. That’s the TLDR! While I really like it’s intention to streamline the routes along EDSA by removing overlapping routes, the implementation is far from ideal—despite more than a year of implementation. The stations are far from sufficient compared with the number of bus stops pre-pandemic, and accessing these stations is not for those with health conditions, absolutely no access for PWDs.
The EDSA Carousel line uses the innermost lane of EDSA, working like an at-grade LRT that uses buses instead of trains. It’s separated by barriers for the most part giving it conceptually it’s own lane, but emergency vehicles also sometimes use it so it’s not really exclusive. As such, it’s spared of the infamous EDSA traffic and is only limited by the speed of the bus ahead it. I guess the debate of who’s causing the traffic (private vehicles or buses) have been settled? At the stations, buses may overtake the one ahead of it in case they won’t unload any passengers.
As the stations are at the middle of EDSA, they mostly utilize the MRT stations for people to get there. Some stations use the existing pedestrian overpasses.
Unfortunately, not all MRT stations have an EDSA Carousel station attached! And even if you’re on the correct side of the direction you’re heading, you may need to cross over to the other side as the stairs from the MRT going down to the station may only be accessible from one side.
I got the chance to try the EDSA Carousel out of necessity as I unfortunately arrived at an MRT station (Kamuning) a few minutes after their doors closed. There’s unfortunately no Carousel station there so I had to walk to the next MRT station (Quezon Ave.) where the nearest Carousel station is, about 1.3 kilometers away. I was heading south towards Buendia.
Upon arriving at Quezon Ave. station and dealing with a lot of stairs (after already walking 1.3 kilometers and hauling a heavy bag), the guard told me that the way to the Carousel station was on the other side—I had to deal with another set of stairs to get over the MRT station to get to the other side (I was on the southbound side). And upon reaching the other side (northbound), I still had to walk the entire length of the MRT station to get to the stairs leading down the buses, and walk further more to get to the loading station. I guess that’s my punishment for missing the last southbound MRT trip.
Fortunately, the trip was fast. I think there’s a chance that it may actually be faster than the MRT as it has less stations and it doesn’t have to stop at all of them if there are no passengers alighting or to be picked up. It didn’t take that long for me to arrive at my destination. It was late at night though so I can’t be certain if it’s as fast during rush hours.
Overall, I still wouldn’t ride the EDSA Carousel bus if the MRT can bring me to my destination and they’re still open. My experience was really terrible and there aren’t as many stops as the MRT. The stations are definitely afterthoughts but they remain terribly inaccessible, particularly to PWDs, even after all these times they’ve been operating. It still looks like a temporary setup. Hopefully, whomever is in charge realize how frustrating it is for those that use it regularly for lack of better options, and implement more permanent solutions. We need not look far for great examples as our southern neighbor, Jakarta (Indonesia), implements a similar system and they executed it very well. I like it’s potential, but not how it’s implemented right now.