THE implementation of the “zipper lane” scheme in Edsa on Monday will be postponed after the dry run last week failed to ease traffic.
Thomas Orbos, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) general manager, said necessary adjustments must be made before its actual implementation.
As this developed the MMDA also suspended the issuance of exemptions under the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or the “number-coding” scheme while its policies are being reviewed.
The “zipper lane” is dedicated to the innermost lane of Edsa, northbound from Main Avenue in Quezon City to Guadix Drive-MRT Ortigas in Mandaluyong City. This was aimed to ease traffic in the Cubao-Ortigas corridor, considered one of the most congested areas along the major thoroughfare.
While the zipper lane significantly reduced travel time in the southbound direction, it aggravated traffic congestion in the northbound lane of Edsa on Friday.
“We need to go back to the drawing board to make the necessary adjustments but we cannot stop looking for solutions to address the problem,” Orbos said.
Out of the 45 provincial bus terminals along Edsa, 26 are located in Cubao, while Ortigas has nine of the largest malls and two schools in proximity to the Edsa bus terminals. In addition, there are police and military camps along Edsa.
“We need to come out with solutions that would benefit the majority for the long term,” Orbos added. “We will still pursue the zipper lane but by its very nature, it works as a release valve that can readily be utilized at certain times but not on a regular basis.”
Orbos said the traffic problem along Edsa is sectional, and therefore, solutions vary on a “by-segment” basis.
Among the other measures being studied for the traffic-choked area are opening up more roads including building a new access road in the Santolan area; stricter enforcement of anti-illegal parking rules; and queuing up of vehicles at the schools, restaurants, and other establishments.
“We need to exert all efforts to find all ways and means to reduce congestion and make vehicles move before we even consider other measures being pushed such as the odd-even scheme,” Orbos said.
Orbos added that the agency has been deluged with applications for exemptions under the UVVRP.
“The volume of vehicles is there but we have to revisit the policies on exemptions because this might defeat the purpose of reducing the number of cars on the roads,” he said.
He reiterated that issuance of an exemption is not mandatory but subject to evaluation and in consideration of exceptional humanitarian reasons.
The MMDA memorandum circular allows for automatic exemption for vehicles carrying persons needing immediate medical attention, official government vehicles, and marked media vehicles.
Under the UVVRP, vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 are prohibited on major Metro Manila thoroughfares on Mondays, 3 and 4 on Tuesdays, 5 and 6 on Wednesdays, 7 and 8 on Thursdays and 9 and 0 on Fridays. The number-coding scheme is lifted on Saturdays, Sundays, and regular holidays.
A recent resolution from the Metro Manila Council suspended the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. window hours until January 31. The same resolution also expanded the UVVRP coverage to all radial and circumferential roads in the metropolis.