Motorists off streets for 2 days in modified scheme

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To ease the worsening traffic gridlock, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is seriously considering an expanded number-coding scheme which will keep motorists off Metro roads not just once but twice a week.

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MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino on Wednesday said the agency plans to expand the coverage of its Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or number-coding system, which bans motorists from using major roads once a week.

Tolentino stressed the need to come up with new system to solve road congestion, which he attributed to the huge number of vehicles in Metro Manila roads.

He said the number of registered vehicles has risen dramatically—from 1.9 million before he assumed office as MMDA chief to 2.3 million today.

He said the agency may copy the “four-digit” number-coding scheme being implemented in Latin American cities such as Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Santiago in Chile.

He said preliminary studies by the agency showed that the number of vehicles in Metro roads would be reduced by 40 percent if the 4-digit UVVRP is enforced.

“Under the present number-coding, only 20 percent of the vehicles are taken off the roads,” Tolentino told reporters.

Under the 4-digit scheme, vehicles with plate numbers ending in 1,2,3 and 4 will not be allowed on major roads on Mondays; while cars license plates ending in 5,6, 7 and 8 will be banned on Tuesdays. Vehicles with plate numbers ending in 9,0,1 and 2 will again be banned on Wednesdays; plates ending in 3, 4, 5 and 6 on Thursdays while those ending in 7,8, 9 and 0 will not be allowed out on Fridays.

Under the current system, vehicles with plate numbers ending in 1 and 2 are banned on Mondays; 3 and 4 on Tuesdays; 5 and 6 on Wednesdays; 7 and 8 on Thursdays and 9 and 10 on Fridays.

Tolentino said the agency will consult stakeholders, including the 17-member Metro Manila Council (MMC), before implementing the new traffic scheme.

Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, who heads the MMC Special Traffic Committee, urged the MMDA to study the proposal carefully. He suggested that the system should be tested for two weeks, but public utility vehicles (PUVs) should not be covered.

Meanwhile, Malacañang on Wednesday rejected the proposal to reduce to four days the work week for some offices as a traffic-easing measure.

Lawyer Romulo Macalintal asked President Benigno Aquino 3rd and the MMDA to consider his proposal, saying it will “result in billions of pesos in savings, besides the easing of traffic.” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Macalintal’s proposal could affect the country’s economic productivity. ”We are doing something about the traffic situation not necessarily in accordance with what Attorney Macalintal [proposed],” Lacierda said.

He said the government is setting terminals for provincial buses to decongest EDSA. There are at least 85 provincial bus terminals in Metro Manila, and 46 of them are along EDSA, thereby contributing to the daily vehicular traffic.

At present, there are 28,432 provincial buses nationwide, 7,736 of which enter Metro Manila daily.

”We currently have 12,000 buses plying in EDSA. So we need to cut that down to 3,000 buses, more or less,” Lacierda said.

Aside from setting up bus terminals, the government is “also cutting down on colorum buses and so these and other factors will ease the traffic situation,” he said.

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