A sensible plan for traffic reduction


IT is quite apparent that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, and specifically the Department of Transportation (DOTr) under Secretary Arthur Tugade, is aware that traffic congestion in and around Metro Manila is a huge, costly problem that should be addressed immediately. The DOTr and its associated agencies like the Metro Manila Development Authority have proposed a number of actions intended to help ease congestion, particularly as the busy holiday season approaches.

There is a growing sense of frustration, however, that the simple, obvious solutions to the traffic mess are being overlooked in favor of lesser measures, such as adjusting the “number coding” rules or adopting a uniform scheme of fines for traffic violations, which do not clearly lead to the rapid, significant improvements the public urgently needs.

The Duterte administration has shown a capacity for bold action, and we believe that is what is needed to resolve the traffic mess once and for all. The actions that need to be taken are simple:

– Ban all colorum buses and other forms of public transport operating illegally anywhere in Metro Manila. This is a problem that has been tolerated for far too long, and flies in the face of President Duterte’s “law and order” orientation.

– Hasten the establishment of transit terminals at the edges of the Metro area. Three are planned, only one is operating, and that is only partly effective. Much more are needed.

– Once properly useful transit terminals are established, ban all provincial buses from entering Metro Manila.

– Ban all tricycles and pedicabs from all main thoroughfares.

– Fix the MRT and LRT, and accelerate the development of additional light rail lines.

– Enforce regular stops along bus and jeepney routes in the city. This is done along some major streets already (such as Taft Avenue in Manila), and when consistently monitored, it significantly improves traffic flow. But like all good ideas, it suffers from a lack of attention – a problem that should be very easy to correct.

– Put a stop to illegal parking. In a recent roundtable meeting with editors and reporters from The Manila Times, officials from the MMDA pointed out that this is already a key initiative, but the pursuit of it has to be done aggressively.

– Along the same lines, implement the “no garage, no car” rule. This proposal has been bitterly resisted when it has been raised in the past, but is the most sensible way to remove unnecessary clutter from the city’s roadways.

– Improve the discipline and competence of traffic enforcers, which in turn will lead to more disciplined drivers.

None of these proposals are a new idea, which in a sense contributes to the continuing frustration of motorists and businesses at the mercy of traffic congestion. The answers have been obvious for a long time; what has been lacking is the firm implementation, the discipline to carry them out, and follow through on them in a sustained manner.

The problem we are facing, despite its scale, is a relatively simple one. But solutions have been held captive by too many vested interests for too long: Local politicians and government units who consider traffic enforcement a revenue source rather than a management tool, bus operators who complain that imposing any order on their operations will cut into earnings, jeepney and tricycle operators whose cries of “livelihood” prevent anyone from curbing their excess numbers or behavior.

We believe the current administration has both the capacity and the desire to fix the city’s traffic mess, and should be encouraged to do what we all have known for some time needs to be done. It may cause some inconvenience and hardship at first for some people, but it will benefit everyone in the long run.


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  1. You know what “obvious” and “common sense” solution to the problem. Remove the jeepney, UV Express, pedicab, tricycles. Replace them with modern bus system, build, configuration. Pay drivers (of jeepney) as regular employee in a monthly basis with medical, dental and health and life insurance. Jeepneys simply occupied lot of space with less number of passenger being “moved”, If the numerous bus companies sees the need (must) to modernize their whole operation –their earnings will sky rocket. But these bus companies should bound together and adapt (in their own initiative) a unified, single and modern method of operation and maintenance. Correct or update me, are bus drivers in PHL still being paid in “commission basis”, boundary system. That’s the biggest stumbling block, dahil agawan sa pasahero–to earn. I don’t know why until now–there is nobody that has the “will” to make the basic fundamental solution to the traffic problem–pay the drivers as a regular skilled laborer.

  2. Stop selling cars to people without the capacity to provide garage for their vehicles and deny its registration. Phase out 30 year old vehicles except those collectors item that can be proven to be well restored-maintained and road worthy.

  3. Carowningbusrider on

    The basic problem of traffic is too many vehicles for not enough road space.
    Just to illustrate this why not try banning all white cars on Tuesdays and all black cars on Thursdays. Car owners are only around 10 percent of the millions of commuters in metro manila. I think it should not be too much of a sacrifice for car owners while at the same time promoting goodwill towards the less fortunate who cannot afford to buy a car.
    Temporarily having 2 days of bliss a week is a lot better than 5 days of hell. In the meantime the government should fast track doing the doable. Gradually increase the number of P2P buses. Remove all illegal buses. Erring bus drivers should be jailed on the spot at mobile jail stations at the choke points of EDSA. No trucks allowed during daytime all over. Increase the cars of MRT3, LRT1 and LRT2. Give all out support to the HPG starting with triple their salary while on traffic duty.
    After some time, with better and more available mass transport the experience of a 2 day bliss week shall be more than enough to encourage the car owners to leave their cars at home willing to do a little sacrifice, promoting goodwill towards the non-car owners and at the same time saving fuel money.

  4. If ya can excise drug users, why not fuel guzzling, air polluting vehicles ? Just salvage them and throw them into the bay!

  5. Without efficient mass transit here and now, as long as there is this huge volume of people scheduled to move from point A to point B daily the traffic can only get worse, because you can’t manage the volume of vehicles if you don’t solve the commuter flow.

    Until the mass transit solution arrives a quick intermediate fix is to alternate weekends for select sectors of the commuting population. An odd even scheme for select school levels like substitute mon-tues as weekend (no classes) for HS but hold their classes until sat-sun would not only effectively redistribute millions of commuters daily to lessen weekday traffic congestion, but also partly address the shortage of classrooms by alternating those used by elementary for HS use on sat-sun, and likewise those not used by HS on mon-tues (day off) can be utilized for the elementary classes.

    This solution struck me as I passed silent schools during sat-sun and wondered why such a waste of time and school building resources. Then I realized that if there were shifting/alternating classes levels they could take advantage of less traffic during Sat-Sun, and affect reduction of traffic on the weekdays.

    Sadly the Tugade team isn’t innovative or observant enough, they even made bottlenecks worse. In once case they allowed the Katipunan Ave/CP-Garcia re-blocked of the the U-turn at the UPIS (now a mall leased to the Ayala’s). The new U-turn was re-positioned at the center of this UP-Ayala Mall causing huge traffic bottleneck. Re-blocked Shuster St. should be reopened or at least the former UPIS U-Turn before this mall. Just because the Ayala’s bought a part of UP Diliman, should they now be dictating where public U-turn slots should be?

  6. michael schneider on

    Well golly gosh, do mean to copy the way things are done in the developed world ? Now wait just a cotton pickin minute. We cant let foreign ideas, disciplines and training systems, not to mention common sense start creeping into our little isolated country. Who knows where it would stop. We might finish up being like Japan, Singapore or South Korea. Yeah keep intelligent and knowledgeable people away from
    Philippines. Let the Filipino Oligarchy rule supreme forever.

  7. During peak traffic hours; offer to employees bonus to work at low traffic hours. Many industries can operate starting at 8 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. Worth a try. Minimum loss, maximum gains.

  8. you are right, bold action is needed. and agree with most of the actions you listed. agree, too, with what you are saying about vested interests – you left out the car assembly industry, though. as long as this industry is subsidised by the government and given priority, policies to lower the huge number of vehicles on our roads are unlikely to happen – or unlikely to have any effect.

    • He also left out the fact that the undisciplined , selfish, impatient Philippine drivers are the biggest cause of congestion. Something that not one commentator on this subject ever raises or acknowledges!
      NO, six cars can’t fit into a one lane U-turn slot!!!

  9. You want a dramatic result then don’t forget to include the most obvious: ban all private cars during rush hours.

    • OK. Ban private cars! I take it you don’t own one? So more dangerously overloaded Jeepneys, SUV’s etc you don’t have a public transport system that comes even close to passing muster in Bangladesh or Biafra!