At the prompting of CNN Philippines for a possible article on an Idealized EDSA, the young architects at JLPD (Karl Bautista, Miguel Fabia, Jems Javier, Ariel Raquitico and Jules Roldan) took on the challenge and put forth their ideas on one illustration describing a people-oriented alternative for Metro Manila’s busiest thoroughfare.
EDSA in the Metropolis
Epifanio de los Santos Avenue is the main transport artery of Metro Manila. Serving a growing urban region encompassing the main metropolis and surrounding provinces, it has a catchment population of over 21 million. A consequence of historical events, geography, antecedent planning, urban administrative policies, private and public sector land use decisions and Metro Manila’s primacy as a mega city in a developing country, EDSA along with tributary streets suffers from severe congestion and has been characterized as having the “worst traffic on earth”. Needless to say, EDSA has become a burden of mobility and a daily source of frustration for most residents in the metropolis.
EDSA by the Numbers:
23 kilometers: Length of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue
2.8 Million: Estimated number of people who use EDSA daily
264,000: Estimated number of private vehicles that pass through EDSA daily (as of 2013)
15,200: Estimated number of city and provincial buses that use EDSA daily (as of 2013)
45 Number of bus terminals along EDSA (as of 2013)
P2.4 Billion: Estimated worth of income lost daily due to traffic congestion in Metro Manila
Concept: EDSA as People Place
The idea behind the submittal of JLPD is to focus less on EDSA as a highway and instead to look at what it could be. The team deliberately avoided fantastic solutions detached from reality and instead gravitated towards more pragmatic, community-oriented solutions that expanded EDSA’s potential and role in the larger metropolis. Occupying over 100 hectares or urban land covering the length of the metropolis, the team asked “what if it can be more than just a highway?”
Move People Not Cars
At the most fundamental level, EDSA should function better. There are already numerous plans and ideas on how to improve capacity, many of which have been tried, some with limited if not doubtful success. Ironically, the team proposed reducing the capacity of EDSA for motorized vehicles. The idea is to reduce dependence on cars and prompt people to shift to (an improved) MRT system This move will require implementing volume reduction programs such as systematizing bus operations (i.e., dismantling the commission system of bus operators and shifting to scheduled and regulated bus systems using feeder routes rather than the current route with the MRT) and implementing congestion pricing for cars. Volume reduction will allow reclaiming one per direction and convert these into wider sidewalks, street trees, bike lanes and other facilities that will improve the pedestrian environment of EDSA. More room for non-motorists also sets the stage to expand the role of EDSA to include place making.
EDSA as People Place
Presently, EDSA is an impenetrable and unfriendly barrier that splits the metropolis along its axis. A reimagined EDSA conceived it as an element that can connect neighborhoods, engage with people better, provide facilities that one would not easily find or get to in the metropolis. EDSA MRT stations provide the highest potential for achieving these. Already, they serve as points of convergence for commuters and are located at key intersections of EDSA and key destinations and hubs. This locational advantage can be tapped further by reimagining the space above the stations as people places and community hubs containing terraced gardens, recreation spaces, community services (clinics, day care, community halls) that serve nearby neighborhoods. And all of these will be accessible on foot or by transit.
In so doing, EDSA can be more than a conduit for traffic and a source frustration. It can contribute more to community life if we start imagining it as more than a street and as a source of positive urban vibes.
Improve mobility and image of EDSA
Implement congestion pricing for all vehicles
Recover 1 lane on each direction and increase roadside reserve for sidewalks, bike lane, street trees
Revamp bus system:
Remove commission basis
Remove redundancy with MRT route and convert buses to feeder routes
Remove Provincial bus terminals and public markets
Improve and expand stations
P2P stations under MRT stations (Baclaran, Makati, Ortigas, Cubao, North Ave., Caloocan)
Utilize MRT stations as nodes for creating community places
Create local destinations that are only reachable by transit
Transit stations as mixed use nodes that enhance community convergence
Elevated people places above transit stations
Sports and recreation (basketball, skateparks, gym, etc)
Indoor botanical gardens
Food park, cafes
Community events, exhibits, conferences, bazaars
Locker and Shower facilities
Government agencies (PRC, NBI, LTO, MMDA)
Community urban farms
Rainwater and ambient humidity harvesting
Advertising and sponsorships
Congestion Pricing Fees
EDSA Development Charges