The MRT augmentation is a consortium of 90 buses meant to augment the capacity of the Mass Railway Transit-3. It starts out from MRT-3 North Avenue Station where commuters going to Ortigas and Makati board.
LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra announced that beginning July 29, all the 90 units will be integrated into the regular bus route called EDSA Carousel, a loop-line of regular buses plying from MRT North Avenue Station to MRT/LRT Taft Station, and vice-versa.
In pre-pandemic days, the shortage of train coaches in MRT-3 left thousands of commuters lining up outside the station. The augmentation buses were called upon to bring these commuters to the Ortigas, Ayala, and Taft stations. Back then, they had to endure the notoriously congested traffic of EDSA.
When Covid-19 struck, the MRT-3 capacity was further reduced in compliance with physical distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. Taking the opportunity to rationalize the mass trasnport system, the regulatory bodies implemented the EDSA Carousel route using a a segregated bus lane in the innermost lane of EDSA.
The redeployed MRT augmentation buses are now part of the EDSA Carousel. During a media observation ride, it took less than 30 minutes to travel from North Avenue in Quezon CIty to Ayala Avenue in Makati—no wonder more commuters now prefer to take the EDSA Carousel rather than line up for the regular MRT-3 trains.
Because the route is traffic-free, each of the 90 buses is able to complete 7 to 8 turn-around trips per day. According to MRT-3 officials, some 10,000 passengers daily now take the buses instead of the train.
The integration of the augmentation buses into the EDSA Carousel will have little effect on commuters. From a fixed end-to-end rate of PHP 25 per passenger from North Avenue to Taft Avenue, the fare will revert to the normal PHP 13 for the first 5 kilometers, and PHP 2.20 for every succeeding kilometer.
Except for 3 cases* of buses hitting the concrete separation barriers, the system has been running smoothly. In fact, DOTr and LTFRB are looking at a long-term implementation of the system post-COVID.