Airport bus services seen benefiting from special lanes

THE use of airport bus services could expand with the provision of special lanes, which would encourage broader use and reduce vehicle congestion along the main gateways, a transportation industry analyst said.

Rene S. Santiago, former president of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines, noted that there are already privately-funded buses that transport passengers to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), but these lack dedicated lanes and are not adequately promoted to the public.

“More passengers taking buses to/from airports can reduce car usage, and lead to traffic improvement,” he said in a chat message. “My observation (is that) there is little demand, maybe due to lack of promotion.”

Passengers often rely on taxis and vehicles-for-hire, which charge high fares.

House Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Ralph G. Recto said that the airport will need more bus services from pick-up points in malls, and a carousel system linking its terminals, as more and more people engage in “revenge travel,” unlocking pent-up demand that had been suppressed by the pandemic.

“If we can incur a P356-billion debt and dig up the roads to construct a subway, deploying lots of buses would be easy,” Mr. Recto said in a statement on Saturday, referring to the Metro Manila Subway Project.

In 2016, the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board launched a premium airport bus service that transports passengers to and from NAIA, with pick up points mostly in Manila and Makati.

According to Mr. Santiago, airport buses would need support from the government “to enhance patronage (by adding) priority lanes, or a motorcycle-escorted service initially to ensure adherence to timetable.”

Mr. Santiago added that countries like Singapore, Hongkong, and Kuala Lumpur have effective airport bus services that the Philippines could study.

The travel experience should go beyond airport services, Mr. Recto said. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz