Road discipline is key to ease traffic woes

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The flow of vehicular traffic all around Metro Manila seemed to have been at its worst in the last few weeks. Roads are clogged in almost all major thoroughfares, and worse in intersections or near U-turn slots. Commuting in Metro Manila is a daily agony without a viable solution in sight.

This is not yet the usual Christmas season traffic situation. How worse can it get when all the major shopping malls go on Christmas sales and tiangges sprout just anywhere; when hawkers occupy any space on the sidewalks and footbridges?

Arghhh! Perhaps it is best to just stay home and do everything online. But at home, Internet service also sucks. Internet service providers are far from giving reliable and fast services as expected and as promised when they sign you up for contracts.

Internet traffic is as slow, if not slower, than vehicular traffic flow.


The Philippines has one of the slowest Internet speed in Southeast Asia with an average speed of 3.4 mbps (megabits per second), yet its rates are among the most expensive. Smart phones’ 3G (third generation) and even 4G technology is no better.

Transportation and communications are two of the most basic needs of working people, yet services in these sectors are the worst.

The long lines of commuters taking the MRT and LRT during the morning and afternoon rush hours are not signs of an economy growing, but of the inefficiency and incompetence of people running the mass transport system today and in the past.

Those in the past did not have the foresight to expand the lines, add coaches, and properly maintain the old ones. Instead, fewer coaches are in running condition nowadays and there were no additional acquisitions.

The roads are clogged because of too many old buses whose undisciplined drivers just pick up and unload passengers just anywhere, ignoring designated bus stops and lanes.

They get to do this because of corrupt law enforcers who turn a blind eye on violators of traffic rules.

Talks circulate that each of the hundreds of passenger buses plying the Edsa route pay P50 a day for the “daily quota” of traffic enforcers to skip traffic violation ticket.

In a few instances, I have seen jeepney drivers handing P20 bill to traffic enforcers near the Quiapo church to be allowed to pick up passengers even if they cause congestion.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have tried numerous solutions to ease vehicular traffic woes, but none has substantially alleviated the problem.

Having Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II or MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, or even President Benigno Aquino III directing traffic won’t solve the congestion problem for as long as motorists, pedestrians, and law enforcers remain undisciplined.

We have enough traffic rules and policies, but are these being followed or enforced? In many instances, traffic enforcers only invoke these rules to extort from violating motorists.

Pedestrians will continue to ignore footbridges and pedestrian lanes if jaywalking laws are selectively enforced.

Colorum vehicles will continue to ply the routes if enforcers continue to bend the rules or turn blind in exchange for a few peso bills to fatten their bellies.

Streets will continue to get flooded each time it rains if the public will go on throwing anywhere even small plastic candy wrappers or whatever trash they have, and clog water canals.

Banning private cars on EDSA would probably lessen the volume of traffic there, but it is an insane proposal. That could be possible if we have an efficient MRT and public bus system on EDSA. But as it is, how will employees, students and businessmen using cars go about their daily activities?

The number of vehicles passing through EDSA every day was estimated at more than two million.

Methinks that discipline will spell a difference in approaching the traffic congestion problem in the city.

We need disciplined traffic enforcers who will not accept bribes from anyone and implement the rules regardless of whoever is involved, be they public officials or members of the media.

Motorists should strictly observe traffic rules, and not brag about badges, media IDs or business cards of police officers or whoever, to skip violation tickets.

Passengers must observe traffic rules on loading and unloading points, and pedestrian lanes.

Local governments should also be strict in providing easement and sidewalks and have these paved. Parking along major roads must be prohibited.

At the South Luzon Expressway last Saturday, our van was running on the same speed as a gray Porsche, prompting me to comment that the driver of the sports car must have been bored.

Actually, he must just have been trying to avoid getting penalized for speeding because traffic enforcers on SLEX are quite strict, and once you are issued a violation ticket, you will have to undergo a seminar and get your license back in Lipa City after at least three days.

The traffic problem affects everyone; it needs everyone’s help to solve. Everyone ought to have the discipline to do his/her part, instead of pointing fingers or blaming somebody else. Let’s all do our share.

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5 Comments

  1. Actually, the best way is to ban private cars at certain hours to give the commuters who are in the great majority more room. Who should get preference on the road, the more numerous commuters or the private car owners? Your answer will depend on whose side of the class struggle you are on.

  2. Good idea from emilio. In London there are limited river buses on the Thames. It does not really ease the congestion, but does give those near the river a pleasant choice. The London Mayor (before the current baffoon!) followed Singapore and introduced congestion charging. It costs 750 pesos per day to enter the central area. (Green vehicles are exempt). The revenue generated was used to provide better and more frequent bus services, and congestion was reduced by 20%. Around the world, the lessons are to improve public transport and get people out of their cars in city centres. The problem here is a lack of political will to challenge the motorists, many of whom have drivers and enjoy ac comfort, whilst the masses suffer discomfort and delays. Let the politicians travel every day on public transport, and it would quickly improve! Many politicians do so in London. Some even cycle to the parliament.

  3. Its so strange how filipinos call drivers un disciplined, i call them stupid ignorant people. But i also blame the government for this. The first thing you need is to bring in a proper difficult & strictly controlled driving test. It means drivers understand about the roads & why you have to do things. Then you need police & traffic enforcers to do thiir jobs correctly. Every single foreigner who drives here sees the stupidity & ignorance of every other road user in this country every single time he drives. My wife hates me complaining, she says just ignore it, & that is what every filipino does he ignores everything everyone else does & he does the same thing.
    Now the reason policemen & traffic enforcers accept bribes is their pay isnt good enough. They could get a bonus for doing their job right by fining drivers every single time they commit an offence ( but discretion is needed & is very easy to understand ).But your drivers drive like they do because they know its ok, no one will say anything.

  4. another way to ease traffic is to increase the use of ferry boats in the Pasig river all over the different cities and municipalities that in can cover during the dry season of course. the MRT is just as congested now as the roads so why not use the water system? plus this will create jobs. and there are no traffic in the water. lol

    • this had been tried before by a group of businessmen. their boats were air-conditioned but they had to close shop because of low volume of passengers taking the boats. my friend who was knowledgeable about that operation told me that the gov’t did not help the businessmen in promoting the mode of transport and did not remove the big block of rock in the mouth of the river near the napindan channel if i remember correctly thus limiting the area covered by the boats.