• Odd schemes and rally permits


    IT is difficult to stay calm in the midst of worsening traffic, but it sure helps that this time around the President seems to understand how bad it actually is, not spinning it to talk about development and progress, not saying things like it ain’t fatal. Instead his appeal for the public’s understanding and cooperation seems sincere, and one realizes that he can’t want this either.

    Stop those road repairs
    I’ve been traveling from Mandaluyong to Manila for the past two years, at least once a week, this semester three times (!) a week. I pass through Shaw Boulevard, down P. Sanchez, down the stretch of Magsaysay Boulevard, into Legarda and Casal Streets, and then Ayala Boulevard.

    When I started teaching at the Manila Times College (MTC) in late 2013, it would take me 40 minutes maximum to get to work. On Thursday, I traveled two hours just to get from Mandaluyong to Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM). Both MTC and PLM are inside Intramuros.

    This increase in travel time did not happen suddenly. Traffic gradually worsened since early this year.

    One of the more obvious reasons has been endless road improvements and repairs. First it was down the stretch of P. Sanchez, which they did an area at a time, which also meant that it happened across a longer period. It was unclear what it was for until it was done and revealed a wider road.

    This did not mean less travel time though, because after that, countless other repairs happened on this stretch. There’s the Ayala Bridge repair that we were promised would end in May but is still ongoing. There are the endless road improvement projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which happen one after the other.

    One wonders why. But also one would like to suggest a reprieve from all these “public works” on our roads. What about no digging up the roads, not for water lines or “road widening,” not for “flood control” or asphalting – not for getting more votes in 2016 or being able to say look! infrastructure spending!

    What about we stop messing with our roads while we have this record number of vehicles plying it.

    And then we start thinking about how to lessen those vehicles.

    Options, options!
    Specifically for Manila, what about putting back that truck ban Mayor Erap? Because no matter what time of day you travel, you are at the mercy of huge container trucks in a long queue to pass through roads that are too small to hold trucks, public transport vehicles, and private cars, especially during rush hour. This means nothing but traffic, no matter efficient traffic lights and traffic police – which Manila has by the way.

    Of course the easiest answer is to stop bringing our cars out, stop with taking Uber. And that is also what the President’s odd-even scheme suggestion will require all of us to do. The President imagines that this will be met with complaints from people who will not be allowed to use their cars.

    Yet I think the louder complaint we will hear is not about being disallowed from bringing our cars out. It’s the fact that we don’t quite have options as far as commuting is concerned.

    While there would be less traffic because there are less cars on the road, that also means competing for cabs – ones that would hike up their prices because there’s such a high demand. There is the option of Uber and Grab Taxi of course, but with higher demand, that only really means paying more for those rides, too.

    The best option is to start a culture of walking and biking, alongside the good ol’ commute. I grew up in a Manila where I could easily get on a bus from EDSA-Crossing and get to school in Quezon City. There was a time I lived on Visayas Avenue and could get to Katipunan Avenue for work in 20 minutes, taking three jeepney rides. Even just a year ago, I could walk to the Shaw Boulevard station of the MRT, and get off at the Magallanes station to go and look at exhibits on Pasong Tamo.

    But we haven’t had these options the past year. We don’t have the option of public transport, at least not in terms of buses and jeeps that are safe and efficient. Bus drivers are forced to drive like crazy madmen if only to meet their day’s boundary; the same with jeepney drivers. The stories are numerous about our unsafe streets, and one isn’t even talking about crime – just the fact of no sidewalks for the pedestrian. Let’s not even talk about bike lanes. Or the MRT.

    It is ironic that the easiest option is also the one that we are not open to. The better treatment of our bus and jeepney drivers that would allow them to earn a decent living without risking their and their passengers’ lives. Better inspections processes for public transportation, and stricter penalties on unsafe buses and jeeps. An easier way of reporting taxi drivers who charge more than what’s on the meter, or who do not treat passengers well. Reclaim the sidewalks from malls, commercial buildings, parking lots. Give us our pedestrian lanes. Make us feel safe on the streets because the police are there to protect us, and not just direct traffic.

    Then, the odd-even scheme just might work. Otherwise, disallowing private vehicle owners from using their cars so often will just mean more absenteeism from work, and more people becoming dependent on Uber, which will really only mean more people buying cars still, to turn it into a business.

    That’s like keeping us off the street so that Uber can take our place on it.

    Now that’s reason to get all riled up, yes?


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    1. I once asked my Korean host when I was in Korea why there is a road construction on both sides of the four-lane highway despite a very light traffic. He replied that their local government foresees an increase in vehicular traffic in the next five years, so they may as well start early. I rest my case.

    2. victor m. hernandez on

      In EDSA, vehicles can actually traverse the whole strecth from Roxas Boulevard-EDSA to Caloocan Monumento in 30 minutes or less even with all the vehicles careening or inching their way to destinations. I notice that there are 4 lanes, the left most lanegoing to , the next lane(middle left side), and the next lane (middle right lane), and the right most. That’s the north-bound stretch. If private vehicles going to as far as Monumento will take the middle left side, and middle right side lane with no vehicles allowed to occupy these lanes,and no overtaking, I believe that traffic will flow fst nd smoothly. Vehicles going north but will turn left at any point in EDSA should take the left most lane nd should not be allowed to change lanes. The same should be be the rule for vehicles turning right at EDSA, tke the right most lne nd should not be allowed to change lane. The way to do this is to canalized or put barriers along the middle lanes, barriers that prevent change lanes from Roxas Blvd to Monumento. The same can be done on the south-bound.lane of EDSA. MMDA can try this, with few modification when necessary. Changing lane is one of the reason why flow of traffic is slow at EDSA.

    3. victor m. hernandez on

      Everyone reads the book Peter Principle, I suggest. The traffic mess is a result of an escalatory processionary thinking. Too many vehicles in too few roads. So we need to build more roads to accomodate more vehicles, nd the vicious cycle continue like lemmings going to the ravine. Metro Manila authorities need to from the Singapore experience in traffic management.Planning is key to this mess. This involves a multidisciplinary approach and a multi-year plan. With all the PPP on roads, bridges, elevated trains, overpasses, skyways, and connectors, traffic congestion will ease up in two to three years time. Unfortunately for PNoy, the accumulation of neglect in long-term planning for the metropolis are now dumped on his doorsteps to solve. Even 6 years is not enough, but he has started to untangle the mess of traffic. The inconvenience caused by the traffic mess will persist until then. We need to be patient and keep cool while on the road. Any short term solution to alleviate the inconvenience will not be easy nor convenient. Nobody wants to wake up at 3 a m, and be on the road at 4:00 to beat the traffic. At this time, one can traverse EDSA from Q.C. to Makati in 15 minutes.

    4. The root cause of traffic congestion is people and goods moving from place to place. The secondary cause is the vehicles moving the people and goods. The third cause is the roads are not sufficient enough to allow vehicles a clear lane for movement. Let’s look for solutions while remembering that a free society cannot and should not restrict the movement of people.

      1. Do we have people and goods that can be moved outside the MMDA? Yes. All nonessential government offices can be moved to areas or provinces outside MM. For instance all Executive, Congressional. COA, Judicial, Comelec, AFP, headquarters and branches can be relocated outside of MM without effecting the work. These can be moved to areas that are in need of development, so that we de-congest MM and also get the added benefit of developing needed provinces. Hundreds of thousands of people would be eliminated from moving within MM. The main ports of Manila should be closed to international freight and ports outside of MM revamped to handle ocean freight. This would eliminate thousands of container trucks moving inside MM.

      2. The main form of transportation within MM are cars, trucks, buses, jeepneys, tricycles, and bicycles. We need to get people off of these vehicles by making a reliable people mover system that crisscrosses the entire MM by elevated rail trains. This should be targeted to handle 3 to 4 million passengers a day. All of this should be under a government run Metro Manila Elevated Train System. Also a MM Bus System should be established to crisscross the entire MM area. Establishing a reliable bus system with routes and schedules will remove riders from Provincial buses and jeepneys at the MM border. The total number of vehicles will drop by tens of thousands.

      3. A new elevated public highway system that crisscrosses MM has to be built to accommodate future increases in vehicle traffic numbers. This elevated public highway would be restricted to Cars, trucks and MM buses.

      Naturally there are many details to this plan but it should be started and completed. This plan tackles the real causes and issues of the problem.

    5. This traffic mess is beyond any solution I think but what riles me most is the recent posturing of this administration where they suggest possible solutions like the odd even scheme but with the ominous caveat that for this or other solution to work the people “must cooperate”. They are now laying the predicate for the sure failure of their proposals then they will then say it is the people’s fault they didn’t cooperate as we have asked. Always somebody else’s fault never theirs. Granting that there are too many vehicles now and not enough roads, overpasses and bridges I would like these laggards to admit and apologize for their lack of anticipation five years ago for not doing, or at least starting, a massive road and bridges construction rather than keep blaming the past administration and the people as the culprit. They should have moved on as they say hit the road running but this is wistful thinking already let’s just grin and bear it with the hope that the next government will know better. Junk them all Mar and the rest of them.

    6. mikhail hieronymus on

      President of a nation is supposed to take care of big problems of the nation, not the mundane problem of the city traffic jam in the city. However, even with his intervention to alleviate the traffic problem, he can not even find the right solution to the traffic problem.

      Imagine the president of the nation can not even solve city traffic problem. How do you expect him to solve bigger and nation wide problem.

      His appointed officials are all useless, and only seeking name recognition for the next coming election. This is indeed sad. The people are the hopeless victims of this president.