METRO Manila does not need to revive a decades-old odd-even scheme to solve its seemingly hopeless traffic congestion problem.
What the National Capital Region needs is a traffic czar with common sense and who the President will listen to, a former transport official said on Friday.
Alberto Suansing, former chairman of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), said vehicle volume is not the main cause of congestion along Metro Manila’s major thoroughfares but the failure to implement traffic rules by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and other agencies designated to manage traffic.
“They are always blaming vehicle volume as the reason for congestion but we believe there is volume because of traffic congestion,” Suansing noted.
He said vehicle congestion exists because traffic flow is obstructed by public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers who load and unload passengers even in undesignated areas or those who are allowed to stay too long in loading and unloading zones. There is also the problem of illegal parking and sidewalk obstructions that forces pedestrians to walk along the side of the roads where they might be even hit by passing vehicles.
“These are the causes of traffic congestion and by strictly enforcing traffic and road laws we can somehow ease traffic congestion, without reintroducing old traffic schemes that might only lead to additional problems,” Suansing added.
He noted that the country already has enough traffic and road policies stated under Chapter 4 of Republic Act 4136 or the “Land Transportation and Traffic Code” and the government only needs to implement them.
For the policies to be implemented effectively, President Benigno Aquino 3rd needs to appoint a new traffic czar who has the political will to enforce the law and common sense in doing it.
The President should also be supportive of whatever the traffic czar is planning to do in order for him to effectively perform his or her duties.
Senator Francis Escudero said the proposed odd-even scheme will just be a temporary solution and it would be better if the concerned agencies like the MMDA, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and local government units in Metro Manila would come up with a long-term solution to the traffic problem.
He added that the planned vehicle reduction program could only be effective if Metro Manila had a dependable public transport system that could safety and comfortably ferry passengers to their destination.
Passenger volume is expected to increase once the government implements the odd-even scheme as it would prevent vehicle owners from using their vehicles three times a week, which could force them to take public transport.
The Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP) is also not in favor of the planned odd-even scheme, saying it is unfair to thousands of motorists who work hard just to make their travel comfortable.
Gus Lagman, AAP president and a columnist of The Manila Times, insisted that it is not the fault of motorists why traffic is bad in Metro Manila.
They would agree with the proposal, he said, if the government provided a convenient mass transport system.
“It is the government that is at fault why we are in this kind of situation and yet they want to punish vehicle owners by limiting the days when they can use their vehicles,” Lagman added.
He wants to know what the government plans to with the courier services companies that will also be affected by the odd–even scheme as they will only be allowed to use their vehicles thrice a week.